The First Bad Man

Pissing into takeout boxes, foot odor, chromotherapy & meconium aspiration all feature in Miranda July's The First Bad Man, a story that plumbs the depths of the human condition with gut-wrenching clarity. Cheryl Glickman is our narrator: a reclusive woman harboring a persistent lump in her throat and a love that "spans lifetimes" for her older colleague Phil. She is as consistent in her routines as in allowing others to walk over her, so when her boss arranges to have his buxom blonde couch potato of a daughter–Clee–live with her for a time, she opens her house without a word of opposition. Conflict ensues, and their ever-shifting relationship anchors the book. Cheryl can be an unreliable narrator, and some sections are so cringe-inducing as to walk the line of surreal. It is difficult to look away, though.