Romance isn’t real, and neither is your world under the cloth. But because you are human, you can never lift the cloth. So you might as well learn how to be the most romantic woman you can be. This is what humans can do: romance. You may now remove the cloth.
Miranda July is a skilled writer. In fact, she’s a great writer, and I think she knows it. Maybe that’s a negative? The farther I get in No on belongs here more than you., the more her stories feel like quick exercises, the kind of writing a novelist would do in preparation. Her stories are short, her characters are quick, the emotions are exaggerated. Again: Miranda July is a very good writer, but she’s not always the most fulfilling.
It Was Romance is, like all her shorts, very intriguing. The story opens as a bit of a mystery, with someone sitting with their face covered in a cloth and someone else walking around the room and saying strange things. You think it’s a children’s class, or you think it’s a cult, but it turns out to be a seminar for older women who lead lives void of romance.
The protagonist and narrator is, again, an unnamed woman who I would be TERRIFIED to date. It ends suddenly and with ambiguity, leaving you with the feeling that it’s part of something bigger, like the middle section of a Jonathan Franzen novel. It’s modern, it’s weird, and it’s very very real.
But I’m starting to wonder why July doesn’t go farther. She seems to write with a strange bravado that would fit someone who is excited to start something larger. Maybe I’m putting too much of myself into this, but It Was Romance feels like the beginning to something abandoned. Part of me enjoys that, part of me mourns it. That said, I have to emphasize how great Miranda July is. I wish I had No one belongs here more than you. when I had started writing, it would have saved me several shitty, shitty drafts.
Miranda July is a great writer.