Shit. Did you see a little brown dog run that way? Potato!
Are you sure? Potato! He must have just run out. Potato!
I wasn’t paying attention.
Well, you would have seen him. Shit. Potato!
Jesus. Well, if you see him, grab him and bring him back over here. He’s a little brown dog, his name is Potato. Potato!
- from “Majesty”
There are sixteen stories in this, Miranda July’s debut collection of short stories. Many of them have been published before in publications such as The New Yorker, which is important enough to have a capital ‘T’ in its ‘The’, and The Paris Review, which has the same distinguished definite article as well as the significant advantage of being at least nominally Parisian.
Each story is told by or about a person who faces an obstacle. This obstacle seems to take the form of something very specific, like a dog, or a vanished voodoo lover, or another person. But if the person would be honest with themselves they would realise that:
a) the obstacle is really their self, and
b) on the other side of this obstacle is life and the world.
This state of affairs is pretty confronting. As such this book might be said to have an instructive purpose. But the author is very loving about it. The naive, underdeveloped affect of July’s protagonists cannot obscure a simultaneously abject and absolute humanity, the humus in the dirt. Read this if you are a person, even if you do not like the colour yellow. To cultivate empathy and strength, read this book.