It Still Counts

16 August 2007

"It still counts, even though it happened when he was unconscious.."

Some kind of unofficial Miranda July week at my house, for no particular reason. I've been reading her short story collection No One Belongs Here More Than You (which incidentally has a very nice and much pointed-to website), then yesterday watched Me, You and Everyone We Know, the 2005 feature film she wrote/directed/performs in. The film's not based on the book, but the tone, the broad feel of the world and the kinds of figures in it are pretty close.

Predictably the big switch from one to the other is interior to exterior – characters whose (narrating) heads we'd be totally trapped inside in the stories are more like passers-by in the film; quirky strangers, seen at some distance. The depth of the protagonists' dysfunction, their deep misapprehensions and delusions about the world, the traps they've built for themselves (in language and bad logic) are the space we live in on the page,  dense, tangled and interior, where the movie (think alt-lite) is forced to show everything as external action and symptom.

I missed the first-person voices (she's great at them and it's not quite the same when rendered as mono or dialogue), though the only-just-tenable situations, caught in fragile stasis or suspension, are still there. The stories reminded me vaguely of what I was doing with Forced Entertainment in The Voices  a few of the monologues from which also made their way into the videos Kent Beeson…, So Small and Erasure. July's stories are lighter touch, more complex dynamic structures though. There's a combination of comedy and darkness to the characters, as though in amongst the urban/suburban absurdity, something terrible, cruel or violent, or something disproportionately sad is always lurking. Even when the stories drift through quirky towards cute or cookie there's enough of this foreboding to make them feel much more substantial. I like the stories a lot – The Swim Team is current favourite.