No One Belongs Here More Than You I give it 3 stars

I bought this book because of its spectacular promotional website. No, really. The site is truly wonderful. I figured that if Miranda July was capable of creating something so clever, her stories would probably also be equally original.

I was kind of right. This book comes with blurbs from Dave Eggers and George Saunders. Saunders is definitely right that her stories are “infused with wonder at the things of the world.” But in context, it can be a deeply troubling wonder. The book starts off with a series of stories featuring protagonists whose wonder at the things of the world leads them into unsettling behavior; they’re just too darn wonder-struck to look out for themselves or for other people. She’s exploring some literary territory—people in messed-up situations—that I don’t usually enjoy.

And so it goes, until the first longer story, “Something That Needs Nothing.” Teens run off together and move to Portland, check. Teens find, quit boring jobs, check. Teens place classified ad that “no longer sounded like blatant prostitution, and yet, to the right reader, it could have meant nothing else,” check. But that’s just the first three pages, and like a Radiohead song, the story takes flight, transforming disquieting raw materials into something odd and beautiful. The same thing happens in the other two longer stories, “Making Love in 2003” and “How to Tell Stories to Children.” With breathing room, the wonder comes to feel earned, and the characters’ complex emotional messed-up-ness more honest.

Thus: an uneven and often unsatisfying collection of short fictions, but one of enormous promise.