From Publishers Weekly
It's a testament to July's artistry that the narrators of this arresting first collection elicit empathy rather than groans. "Making Love in 2003," for example, follows a young woman's dubious trajectory from being the passive, discarded object of her writing professor's attentions to seducing a 14-year-old boy in the special-needs class she teaches, while another young woman enters the sex industry when her girlfriend abandons her, with a surprising effect on the relationship. July's characters over these 16 stories get into similarly extreme situations in their quests to be loved and accepted, and often resort to their fantasy lives when the real world disappoints (which is often): the self-effacing narrator of "The Shared Patio" concocts a touching romance around her epilectic Korean neighbor; the aging single man of "The Sister" weaves an elaborate fantasy around his factory colleague Victor's teenage sister (who doesn't exist) to seduce someone else. July's single emotional register is familiar from her film Me and You and Everyone We Know
, but it's a capacious one: wry, wistful, vulnerable, tough and tender, it fully accommodates moments of bleak human reversals. These stories are as immediate and distressing as confessionals. (May)
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July's collection of stories is a gem of unconventional storytelling. Comparisons to Lorrie Moore only get the potential reader halfway there; one must add Karen Finley's meditations and Douglas Coupland's painful self-exploration. July's unadorned prose has a conversational tone, sounding like overheard bus conversations. The disaffected are well represented in such stories as "Something That Needs Nothing" and "The Swim Team," but July is at her best when she takes it a step further. The merely marginal individual borders on the grotesque in "Majesty," about a middle-aged woman's strange obsession with Prince William, and in "Mon Plaisir," with its odd and strangely removed discussion of a couple's odd sexuality. However, the most powerful piece in the collection, "This Person," is told by an unseen narrator. "Someone" gets--and rejects--"her one chance to be loved by everyone," and the story of this opportunity and how it is dismissed is told in a detached, dreamlike narrative. Debi LewisCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved