Posted in Readings

No one belongs here more than you

Everywhere I go, I’m more of a novice or an outsider than the other people in the field.” Miranda July

I have a guess: people write fiction when they have repressed feelings. I am not like that. Not at all. I’m confrontational. I don’t have the tiniest bit of passive aggressiveness, unlike most fellows I know. Which is why I actually feel quite safe in the Netherlands, given the Dutch being notorious for having a quirk of absolute bluntness. It helps me, in a way. Everything is out in the open. I don’t need to risk a wild guess gone awry. I don’t need to secretly wish for cue cards in social relationship.

This revelation comes to me after reading Miranda July’s short stories, “No one belongs here more than you”. It’s as if a lightbulb popped in my head this morning, “this is why I don’t write fiction.” As you might have read in my previous post, my writing trajectory has barely touched upon the made-up world and I am totally blasé about it.

It is not to say that I don’t appreciate fiction. I do, very much. I could claim to be a loyal fiction reader throughout my life. And I have no intention to stop. One of the reason is perhaps the effect of reading fiction. It directly boosts my comprehension of how to be more empathetic. I love Adichie and Zadie Smith, for example, because they are writers who talk about social issues too obvious to ignore but definitely, most obviously, had been mostly ignored by the rest of writers.

Not to imply that I don’t like Miranda July. I like the way she writes. It has a sense of free-style and cool vibe that is barely out of my reach. The only thing is, I am not one hundred percent sure of being empathetic to her – in my humble opinion – privileged characters. One of the blurb said her characters are exactly the strong point of her prose, the uniqueness, the voice that makes this collection stood out. It is about ordinary people living ordinary life, deep down having so many complication and repressed feelings. In a way, the author’s an artist as she could capture it all underneath and make it worth surfacing. Yet, I don’t know why is everyone so dysfunctional? What’s all the fuss? I don’t see them having problem other than internal.

Still, I enjoy reading her crafted words the way Lorde learn from her storytelling how to put words into songs. If you see tumblr feeds on this book and the author, it is full of quotes which represents exactly how July writes: with lots of implied attitude of quotables that could as well be gone. A lot of it are genius and on point. Perhaps it is the essence of her stories, not heavy on the plot or story line but rich of seemingly uncorrelated wildness and confrontation in each character’s mind.

If you’re like me, you might be suddenly confronted with some lines out of nowhere, in the middle of the story, that makes you mirror into yourself: do people always have to beat themselves up like that? Don’t we have enough of these “I don’t have any financial problems per se but I am still unhappy” kind of plot? It unleashes such unbelievable whirlwind of self-analyzing mode: is it wrong for me to be one-dimensional and not having any hint of tragedy in what I feel or experience? Does feeling tragic, or portraying yourself as tragic, makes you more likeable? What’s the point? For me, one can only be admirably, enviably tragic when they are not actually tragic. If they’re actually tragic, they’re just that: tragic.

Lorde’s interview at rookie magz was the reason I grabbed this book at the library, and I am happy to know that there are different character out there and we are living in different worlds. It basically pointed out that a lot of times people are unsure and having a lot of uncertainties, no matter how strong they tried to plan things out in advance.


Source of featured photo:


on-going tensions between ready-made values and uncharted territory

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