Miranda July – The Man on the Stairs

I didn’t know anything about Miranda July when I started reading No one belongs here more than you. It’s a great collection of stories, so far. Though, I’d like to think that a big part of creative writing has to do with communication, almost like it’s a secret language. The author writes a text and the reader experiences the text, and in some where way it serves as an exaggerated conversation.

I wonder if I’d like Miranda July, if we’d get a long, in real life.

The Man on the Stairs is very short, and there’s part of me that likes that. I think it’s important to know how long an idea is, when writing, and to let that idea be as long or short as it needs to be. The idea behind The Man on the Stairs fits its short structure.

It starts with the noise that wakes up the narrator. Again, it’s a woman and she’s unnamed. She hears someone walking up the stairs to her apartment, the inner monologue that follows is of her thought process in deciding how to react. Next to her is a boyfriend, fast asleep. From the way he’s described, you’d assume he’s a bit of an ass.

The story ends with the narrator standing in the doorway at the top of the stairs, she cannot see the man who was walking up to her bedroom, but she can smell and hear him With some anger, she tells him to go away.

It’s obvious that there are parallels to the man in her bed and the man in the stairs, and it’s obvious that her anger is misdirected to the shadowy figure. I’d argue, as well, that there was no man on the stairs, that it was simply the narrator’s mind playing tricks on her.

I was angry at her, at the end. She should wake up her boyfriend and say to him what she said to the man on the stairs. I’m bringing a lot of myself into this reading, I’ll admit, but part of me almost feels bad for the boyfriend.

Maybe he doesn’t know that his girlfriend is unhappy? It seems like a stretch, given the story itself, and I’m sure that’s not what July intended for me to take away from the text, but I believe in this narrator. I believe she is better than whispering to a dark stair way, and I believe she has the right to tell the boy in the bed that she doesn’t want to be with him anymore, or at the very least that he has been an ass (wether or not he knows it).

I guess, in the end, my reaction to The Man in the Stairs is one of disappointment. Not in the writing, not in the author, but in the characters. I just want something better for them, and maybe that’s the point.

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