I bought this book recently by Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You, even though of course, I shouldn’t have been buying any books at all.
But as soon as I read the title I knew I wanted to read it. Yep, that’s right, knowing absolutely nothing about the book, I bought it simply on the fact I really liked the title. But I’m really glad I did.
Published in 2007, No One Belongs Here More Than You is a collection of strange yet wonderful short stories written by the director, screenwriter, actor author and artist (yes, really all those things, she’s even made an app), Miranda July.
When I had finished reading the book, which only took me a couple of hours because I was enjoying the stories so much, I googled Miranda’s name. To my surprise, I was suddenly hit with a blast from the past when I found her website dedicated to the book, which Miranda writes on her kitchen stove with a whiteboard marker. For some strange reason, when I was around 12 or 13, I clearly remember coming across Miranda’s website and being really intrigued by the unique yet simple style it was made, despite not having or reading the book. Suddenly I felt like it was meant to be that I had been so drawn to Miranda’s book in the store. I had known about it, I just hadn’t realized!
“But, like ivy, we grow where there is room for us.”
I can’t really describe to you what the short stories are about in this book. I swear I say that every time in a review, but honestly, I can’t. Each story was so…weird yet, normal in a way. Miranda clearly has a talent for writing about normal things but making them extremely unique and strange in the best way possible.
My favorite story in the book was Something That Needs Nothing, about two friends who decide to live with each other after they finish school, but one of them is incredibly in love with the other. It is a story about friendship, unrequited love, things not turning out how you planned them to. It’s about identity in a way, sexuality and feeling hurt by the people you love most.
“There was nothing in this world that was not a con, suddenly I understood this. Nothing really mattered, and nothing could be lost. ”
But the thing I loved most about Miranda’s writing and the stories was the narrative voice. The narrative voice she used for each story was similar each time, quirky and thoughtful and I suppose quite strange in a way. I loved hearing the narrators voice in my head because I felt like it was a voice I could relate to, either personally or just because it seemed similar to the way I write my characters or narrators.
“Inelegantly, and without my consent, time passed.”
Every now and then Miranda would write something and the words would pang in my heart like someone striking a gong or throwing a book at my head. Her writing to me is incredibly thoughtful and sentimental, even comforting at times, or speaking of things in a way I had felt but never put in words before myself.
Another one of my favorites in the book was the story titled This Person.
This Person, was about this person, was about someone, was about me and you and her. The way in which Miranda wrote This Person was incredibly unique and interesting to read, almost seemingly like a mix between first, second and third person, like all at once she was speaking about what many of us have felt at one time or another.
“This person realizes that staying home means blowing off everyone this person has ever known. But the desire to stay in is very strong. This person wants to run a bath and then read in bed.”
Honestly I could fill this whole post with quotes that spoke to me throughout this book. Even the title, the reason for me being so drawn to the book in the first place, was just the exact words I needed to hear, the exact words that strike my heart like a match. And that was the one thing I really got from Miranda’s book, comfort, in a strange sort of way. A feeling that I would never be the only person to feel a certain emotion. There would always be someone else. You are never alone in with your emotions. Remember that no one belongs here more than you.
So finally I will leave you with the ending paragraph from the first story, The Shared Patio, and I hope it will speak and comfort you as much as it did for me.
“Do you have doubts about life? Are you unsure if it’s worth the trouble? Look at the sky: that is for you. Look at each person’s face as you pass on the street: those faces are for you. And the street itself, and the ground under the street and the ball of fire underneath the ground: all these things are for you. They are as much for you as they are for other people. Remember this when you wake up in the morning and think you have nothing. Stand up and face the east. Now praise the sky and praise the light within each person under the sky. It’s okay to be unsure. But praise, praise, praise.”