It Chooses You
In the summer of 2009, Miranda July was struggling to finish writing the screenplay for her much-anticipated second film. During her increasingly long lunch breaks, she began to obsessively read the PennySaver, the iconic classifieds booklet that reached everywhere and seemed to come from nowhere. Who was the person selling the “Large leather Jacket, $10”? It seemed important to find out—or at least it was a great distraction from the screenplay.Accompanied by photographer Brigitte Sire, July crisscrossed Los Angeles to meet a random selection of PennySaver sellers, glimpsing thirteen surprisingly moving and profoundly specific realities, along the way shaping her film, and herself, in unexpected ways.Elegantly blending narrative, interviews, and photographs with July’s off-kilter honesty and deadpan humor, this is a story of procrastination and inspiration, isolation and connection, and grabbing hold of the invisible world.

It Chooses You Details

TitleIt Chooses You
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 15th, 2011
PublisherMcSweeney's Publishing
ISBN-139781936365012
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Art, Short Stories, Writing, Essays

It Chooses You Review

  • christa
    January 1, 1970
    At first I didn’t like Miranda July. She seemed too precious. Her first book of short stories, contrived quirkiness. Like watching Zooey Deschanel shop for leg warmers at Goodwill. But I didn’t like Miranda July in that way that meant I’d be peeking out from behind the curtains to watch her walk down the street. I didn’t like her in a way I understood to mean that I didn’t like her right now, but that wasn’t necessarily my final verdict. Then I loved Miranda July. It was her movie “Me You and Ev At first I didn’t like Miranda July. She seemed too precious. Her first book of short stories, contrived quirkiness. Like watching Zooey Deschanel shop for leg warmers at Goodwill. But I didn’t like Miranda July in that way that meant I’d be peeking out from behind the curtains to watch her walk down the street. I didn’t like her in a way I understood to mean that I didn’t like her right now, but that wasn’t necessarily my final verdict. Then I loved Miranda July. It was her movie “Me You and Everyone We Know,” which she wrote and starred in. It was different. Nice. A little uncomfortable. Mostly different, with clever characters whose motivations I didn’t understand, made better for the not understanding. There was minutia, and I’m really into minutia lately. It was funny, but not obviously funny. It was an hour and a half I didn’t regret at all. And now. And now. Miranda July tipped me over with “It Chooses You,” the memoir slash journalistic exercise she wrote while she was supposed to be doing something else, namely the screenplay for another movie. It’s a familiar moment she describes, and the reason why my boyfriend and I -- both in the middle of other creative projects -- first started a basement rock band, then started a web comic (although neither lasted long). “The funny thing about my procrastination was that I was almost done with the screenplay. I was like that person who had fought dragons and lost limbs and crawled through swamps and now, finally, the castle was visible. I could see tiny children waving flags on the balcony; all I had to do was walk across a field to get to them. But all of a sudden I was very, very sleepy. And the children couldn’t believe their eyes as I folded down to my knees and fell to the ground face-first with my eyes open.”July starts contacting people who are selling things in the Penny Saver: a suitcase, a leather jacket, cats, a blowdryer. She doesn’t want their stuff, she wants to meet them and talk about stuff. She takes along a photographer, Brigitte Sire, who has her work included in this book and July’s assistant Alfred “... to protect us from rape.” She trades about $50 for a session with these people and asks them about their lives and when they were the happiest. She meets a mid-transition transsexual (selling a leather coat) and a teenager selling bullfrog tadpoles and at a house where a woman is selling a blowdryer, the woman’s daughter sings for them “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. And somewhere in Los Angeles, July meets Joe, an old man who has spent years writing dirty poems for his wife. Lots of tits and twats stuff. He inspires a direction shift in July’s script and then role in her movie “The Future.” I’m not sure where a person in the book business shelves this. At our local bookstore it was with films/movies/TV. But I’d give it more of a memoir, memoir-y, memoir-ish label. Maybe even stick it somewhere near “Bird by Bird,” the quintessential “How to Write Good” guide by Anne Lamott. Especially when it comes to the short personal bursts, writing “The Future” or doing anything creative, actually. She talks about her style when it comes to creating films, being grateful that she is a part of it, but: “I was desperately trying to remind myself that there was no one way to make a good movie; I could actually write anything or cast anyone. I could cast ghosts or shadows, or a pineapple or the shadow of a pineapple.” Just pages later she has left a copy of her script untouched. She’s trying to become unfamiliar with her main characters. She imagined it curing like ham, the longer she left it. She also tries to trick herself. She’s a snoopy housekeeper who has stumbled upon this packet of words: “‘What have we here,’ I said to myself, peeking at the first page and then slyly glancing over my shoulder.”
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  • veronica
    January 1, 1970
    Like a lot of Miranda July's projects I had a lot of conflicting feelings about this book -- giving the book a 3 star rating really doesn't reflect how I felt about it, it's more like the average of my reaction to the book, some of which I loved, loved and some I hated. The good: it's poignant, funny, the PennySaver people are a fascinating bunch and the photography is great. The bad: the nagging feeling that this was all freak show exploitation. The ugly: July's non-stop solipsistic whining abo Like a lot of Miranda July's projects I had a lot of conflicting feelings about this book -- giving the book a 3 star rating really doesn't reflect how I felt about it, it's more like the average of my reaction to the book, some of which I loved, loved and some I hated. The good: it's poignant, funny, the PennySaver people are a fascinating bunch and the photography is great. The bad: the nagging feeling that this was all freak show exploitation. The ugly: July's non-stop solipsistic whining about her damn movie. It seems like her response to every person she meets is, "Oh, sure, you're impoverished, alone and depressed -- but what about me? I can't finish my movie!" The things that made up for this, though: the gut-punch of the final chapter and Brigitte Sire's photographs which are infinitely more sensitive and empathetic toward the subjects than July's writing.
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  • Melki
    January 1, 1970
    Now I like to forageIn some people's storageAs much as the next guyAs a way to avoid working on her screenplay, Miranda July spent hours perusing the weekly Pennysaver. Her curiosity piqued, she set out to meet the sellers of items ranging from a hairdryer to a sixty-seven piece art set. The result is a collection of interviews and photos; people gladly telling the stories of their lives, sharing their dreams and losses, and explaining how they came to the decision to part with their particular Now I like to forageIn some people's storageAs much as the next guyAs a way to avoid working on her screenplay, Miranda July spent hours perusing the weekly Pennysaver. Her curiosity piqued, she set out to meet the sellers of items ranging from a hairdryer to a sixty-seven piece art set. The result is a collection of interviews and photos; people gladly telling the stories of their lives, sharing their dreams and losses, and explaining how they came to the decision to part with their particular item. For July, it became a sort of voyage of self-discovery, and she ended up rethinking her script, having one of her characters answer a classified ad, and even using one of the interviewees in her film. By spending time talking to this diverse group of people, she discovered that "...everyone's story matters to themselves..."Now my friend JimHe packed it all inTo a 12 by 4 storage spaceBoxes and boxes and boxes and boxesAll neatly piled and tucked in placeDoes this book really deserve 5 stars? Probably not, but for me it was the right book at the right time. It led to hours of deliberation and introspection. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about all my stuff. I'm not a hoarder, but man, do I ever have a ton of shit. In addition to all the usual suspects: books, records, CDs, I also have collections. More collections than I can count. (I even have a notebook full of banana stickers. Yes. Banana stickers.)What on earth is going to happen to all this crap when I die?Now I've got an atticAnd you've got a basementPut it together and what do we seeA piece of you and a piece of meMoving on to antiquityOne of the most poignant chapters in this book concerns a collection of photo albums filled with pictures of the same couple from their wedding to their old age. They had no children, and their albums, the visual record of their lives, were up for grabs at 10 bucks a pop. What will happen to all my stuff? And yours?All of the things we've collected and treasured, packed and moved, displayed with pride, dusted, polished, and when needed, painstakingly glued back together.Will anyone want our things? Will they become part of someone else's collection, someone else's life? Or will they end up in the dumpster?I'm not sure why it should matter to me, but it does.So sooner or later we're all gonna findThat we made it to the end of the lineIt's all there to remind and rewindIt's the things you leave behindIt's the stuff you leave behindIt's the friends you leave behind'The Things You Leave Behind' by Lenny Kayehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKAFZB...
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  • Margaret
    January 1, 1970
    I eagerly anticipated this book's arrival to my local library for weeks--because the concept is intriguing. I was disappointed, however, with the execution of this concept. The author seemed far more interested in how each encounter could be used to tell the audience something about herself, rather than telling each individual's story. Many times it seemed like the author enjoyed portraying these characters negatively....for example, the woman holding the small feline, photographed with her bell I eagerly anticipated this book's arrival to my local library for weeks--because the concept is intriguing. I was disappointed, however, with the execution of this concept. The author seemed far more interested in how each encounter could be used to tell the audience something about herself, rather than telling each individual's story. Many times it seemed like the author enjoyed portraying these characters negatively....for example, the woman holding the small feline, photographed with her belly hanging out...I bet she would have liked the author to have used a photo that did not expose her belly. Or for the author not to devote a page and a half making it clear that she was disgusted by the ambrosia salad she spent hours making. What could have been an opportunity to tell the stories of these individuals who placed ads in the PennySaver turned out to be a collection of unkind vignettes that illuminated very little about the individuals interviewed, and revealed little of substance about the author. These are real people. I hope none of those featured in this book pick up a copy.
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  • Danger
    January 1, 1970
    This was a weird one. Partially serving as a (somewhat-but-not-really) chronicle of Miranda July’s process of writing her 2nd feature film The Future, during which she procrastinates by meeting up with and interviewing random people who had placed ads for junk in the local PennySaver. Although I would consider myself a fan of July’s (both her film and prose) this book turned me off at first. It was just so...self-indulgent. Like she was placing her position as an “artist” (a quirky one at that!) This was a weird one. Partially serving as a (somewhat-but-not-really) chronicle of Miranda July’s process of writing her 2nd feature film The Future, during which she procrastinates by meeting up with and interviewing random people who had placed ads for junk in the local PennySaver. Although I would consider myself a fan of July’s (both her film and prose) this book turned me off at first. It was just so...self-indulgent. Like she was placing her position as an “artist” (a quirky one at that!) above everyone else, and lamenting her “creative” problems like they were her happy cross to bear. And it was as if she were trying to FORCE meaning from what would ordinarily be normal, boring strangers. BUT - as the book wore on, that feeling kinda changed. The interviews got deeper, the people got more idiosyncratic, more interesting, the ties between what she was doing with this book and the ideas that endure and make it into The Future became clearer. If she was trying to “force” meaning, as I had said above, it was only because that’s who she - as a character - was at the start of this book. And as it wore on, meaning forced it way (whether she wanted it to or not) through every crack in every sentence, and she was powerless to stop it. By the end, this thing is overflowing with love and death and sadness and regret and hope, cutting right down to that rawest nerve that we, as humans, all share. It’s brilliant.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    This is a tough one. This one repulsed me. I'm still trying to figure out why and I might delete this tomorrow because I feel like I might be judging too harshly, but here it goes anyways. Something about a white, pretty, privileged, screenwriter chick who only associates with Hollywood industry people (of course) and lives in Silver Lake (of course) and yet despite not having a "job" (which must also be explicitly pointed out to me) can still pay rent a few blocks away at a "cave" (unlikely) wh This is a tough one. This one repulsed me. I'm still trying to figure out why and I might delete this tomorrow because I feel like I might be judging too harshly, but here it goes anyways. Something about a white, pretty, privileged, screenwriter chick who only associates with Hollywood industry people (of course) and lives in Silver Lake (of course) and yet despite not having a "job" (which must also be explicitly pointed out to me) can still pay rent a few blocks away at a "cave" (unlikely) while living at her boyfriend's house full-time (which in L.A. reads: you give me head; me give you shelter. food. gas money)(I joke) and yet somehow has scads of time with zero motivation (upper class ennui, much?) to NOT write her screenplay then..(Epiphany!!) discovers that not everyone in L.A. belongs to her 1%. (note to self: google: Miranda July and Occupy L.A. and movement)The beginning and almost right up until the last few chapters was just too: "I'm an L.A. transplant and I don't associate with the working class because I'm here to MAKE IT. I am so interesting. I have so many interesting ideas. Ok, so let's take a field trip to the lesser burroughs of L.A. and gawk at how poor and "unattractive" Pennysaver-people are. Let's see how poorly they're getting along during a recession I'm minimally affected by. Why pay $50 to go to the zoo up the street when I can be the first Silver Lake resident to pioneer into Lynwood or Palmdale or the 909 and pay $50 for someone without a high school diploma to tell me about their Hollywood-less lifestyle? This is going to be so fucking cool. There is no WAY I could have ever had met these people without the Pennysaver. It's the Internet's fault that there is literally this wall between me and them. Way to go Miranda. You are so fucking brilliant." I get it; part of how she is trying to present herself and this project is very tongue in cheek. But some of it wasn't. The end was better, but I don't know if that's because I personally liked her last interviewee (as did she) or because she explained her purpose a little more for me to forgive her for the beginning.I only use the word unattractive because July does...maybe she used an even less flattering word...but to be invited into a stranger's home, basically call her ugly afterwards, paste a picture of her a few pages later, and publish it? That takes some balls. Grrrl power!!! Uh, no. Maybe July belongs to some new sect of feminism that I don't know about, after all, I don't live in Silver Lake anymore, so what the fuck do I know. This isn't some form of respectful anthropological research for a graduate thesis. This is: You're insulting random people right under pictures of their faces and making money off it. Bttttch-I mean-grrrl powwhateverrrrrrr. Is this the same type of feminist who would claim we need to lift other women up in positive ways? Or just those women who can return a favor in the biz? Just wondering because I doubt she'd be creating a hot or not list of Hollywood insiders and publishing it to a national audience. Why is it ok to do that here? Hmm. I couldn't help but think, she included pictures of all these people, why can't I judge their appearance without her TELLING me they're unattractive? Why include a picture of them at all??? For proof? To support her argument like a weak middle school thesis? Ugh. Just so many bad, bad thoughts. What's more, none of the Pennypeople have a computer/internet so there is no way they could possibly have any kind of voice or response to the things she's said/implied about them. And she knows this. And she just keeps pointing it out again, and again. Her repulsion and fear of the Pennypeople is the reaction one would expect from little kids in the backseat of their mother's yuppie wagon driving from San Marino to Skid Row to receive a lesson on poverty: Look kids- poor people! Except July makes the mistake of getting out of the car, walking into their homes, and opening her mouth. Does July WANT select people in her audience to not like her? Is she only writing for those in her cool, educated, upper-class squad who would find mixing with other classes a source of amusement? Because the types of people she's writing about in this book sure as shit aren't reading anything she and her squad are writing. So is the underlying implication...the only people reading this and liking it are the one's whose opinions matter to her anyways so everyone else can suck it?This is how I imagine that squad convo going: Paramount? Oh yeah, I was just over there yesterday, grrrl. I had a meeting with an associate producer. What? It's actually a city? What do you mean?!?! Oh my gawd Miranda! No way, you went where?!?! That is SO far away! Lol. That is SO funny. You are SO crazy. Did you run out of gas on your way there? No? Your boyfriend gave you enough gas money to get there...cool...let's meet up soon so I can show you the rest of my safari pics from Africa and you can show me the ones you took at that Paramount trailer park! ;)Her privileged otherness, which she tries soooo hard to contain, was just too much for me. It reminded me of the white flight mentality I grew up with in a suburb of L.A. in the 1980's. And the ironic thing is, before that, I grew up in Silver Lake...when the majority of people living there were like those photographed in her book. So maybe I'm simply reading this differently than how she hopes her hipster audience will translate it...or maybe not. To her credit, 80's white flight is a difficult first-person mentality to pull off. Especially when the narrator isn't fictional. This was an issue I ran into firsthand way back when in a college Comp. class. Is it possible for the educated, non-broke & beautiful to write boldly about certain aspects of poverty and "ugliness" without sounding like complete fucking assholes? Long story short, I had to call one person in that class a complete fucking asshole. Oh what might have been. Maybe if I had grown up sheltered in intellectually rich (or just plain rich) communities, I might find her drive to the other side of the tracks (L.A. suburbs, un-gentrified hoods, Valley apartments) super exciting. Or maybe when you aren't from Anytown, USA, its inhabitants take on a foreign quality that a native would not find fascinating. If these interviews had been conducted in Smalltown, Oklahoma, I can't help but think that the reaction to them would be: What ma'am, exactly, was you expectin' to find hereabouts? But even if it wasn't OK or L.A., every time she acted shocked, I kept thinking- Yeah, it's the Pennysaver. What ma'am, exactly, was you expectin' to find hereabouts?
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  • Bert
    January 1, 1970
    This is a brilliant kind of conceptual art/memoir that is mostly sad, and gives me that existential funny-tummy feeling that i try really hard to avoid because it is maybe too real. It is also life-affirming. So this book is concerned with authenticity, and what happens when you spend too much time in your own head, or that empty feeling of being tied to the internet or of just being alive right now, that sense that you are not living an authentic life. What i love about Miranda July is she neve This is a brilliant kind of conceptual art/memoir that is mostly sad, and gives me that existential funny-tummy feeling that i try really hard to avoid because it is maybe too real. It is also life-affirming. So this book is concerned with authenticity, and what happens when you spend too much time in your own head, or that empty feeling of being tied to the internet or of just being alive right now, that sense that you are not living an authentic life. What i love about Miranda July is she never makes any sweeping generalisations, or draws any easy conclusions, she tells us that life is almost unbearably poignant and weird and sometimes disturbing, kind of like the people she meets from the PennySaver ads. And it's impossible not to fall for Joe, what a wonderful man. What this ends up being is a snapshot into the increasingly marginalised "off-the-grid" lives of the poor and the elderly who don't want or can't afford the internet, and that feels like a massively important thing in itself. Miranda July is a seriously important artist, but she is also funny and touching, and i hope she's not too depressed or anything. I might've even preferred this to The Future.
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  • Kathrin Passig
    January 1, 1970
    Ich hab es eigentlich nur wegen der sehr guten Prokrastinationsgeschichte in der Einleitung gelesen und bin dann dran hängengeblieben. Am Ende geht es um Kunst, also, wie Kunst eigentlich funktioniert. Die Lektüre war einerseits tröstlich: Man kann die ganze Zeit nur Blödsinn machen und herumpfuschen und scheitern. Andererseits beunruhigend: Man müsste das alles viel ernster nehmen, als ich es tue, dann käme auch was Interessantes dabei heraus. Würde auch fünf Sterne geben, vermute aber, dass ic Ich hab es eigentlich nur wegen der sehr guten Prokrastinationsgeschichte in der Einleitung gelesen und bin dann dran hängengeblieben. Am Ende geht es um Kunst, also, wie Kunst eigentlich funktioniert. Die Lektüre war einerseits tröstlich: Man kann die ganze Zeit nur Blödsinn machen und herumpfuschen und scheitern. Andererseits beunruhigend: Man müsste das alles viel ernster nehmen, als ich es tue, dann käme auch was Interessantes dabei heraus. Würde auch fünf Sterne geben, vermute aber, dass ich demnächst alles wieder vergessen werde, deshalb nur vier.
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  • Zach
    January 1, 1970
    While the project behind this book, interviewing people with items listed in the Penny Saver, is interesting, what makes the book worth reading is Miranda July's unique perspective on...well, everything. Sure, lots of the stories she finds speak for themselves, but as anyone who's familiar with her performance art knows, what she really excels at is locating the relevance (some people might use the word meaning, but that would imply an authorial imposition and I don't think she does that) of obj While the project behind this book, interviewing people with items listed in the Penny Saver, is interesting, what makes the book worth reading is Miranda July's unique perspective on...well, everything. Sure, lots of the stories she finds speak for themselves, but as anyone who's familiar with her performance art knows, what she really excels at is locating the relevance (some people might use the word meaning, but that would imply an authorial imposition and I don't think she does that) of objects and situations. It's as if she sees the storylines beneath the storylines. Below the currents of our everyday lives there are other currents, equally as important, and it's from these that she draws her narrative. It's in these currents that she seems to live her life. She is an explorer more than a creator, and she's gifted at finding treasures in other people's waste. She says it herself in this books: "I...reminded myself to be attentive to mysterious advice and coded messages." July is the master codebreaker of existence. I imagine her reading the molecules that make up the air.
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  • Udai
    January 1, 1970
    The funny thought of wanting to know how other ordinary people, like passersby in the street, live their lives always struck me. This thought always came with profound sadness and emptiness making me feel that life is worthless.What makes life special? And why are we here? And why are they still living their worthless lives? Knowing that your story isn't that special and knowing a lot of stories get forgotten is an overwhelming feeling that will leave you lost in a sea of vagueness. If someone w The funny thought of wanting to know how other ordinary people, like passersby in the street, live their lives always struck me. This thought always came with profound sadness and emptiness making me feel that life is worthless.What makes life special? And why are we here? And why are they still living their worthless lives? Knowing that your story isn't that special and knowing a lot of stories get forgotten is an overwhelming feeling that will leave you lost in a sea of vagueness. If someone would've asked me what do I share with a fifty something transvestite, a middle-aged Indian woman or a suburban single mother I would've said: "nothing!". That's not the right answer and this book came as a reminder that the thing that I share with them and everyone else is the world.This is not a life mentor book or a feel good novel – GOD FORBID!. It is a tiny window on possibilities. It will not make you feel better about life by describing how good it is to be alive. It will make you feel better about life by helping you understanding it a bit more as you glide through the book.So the writer gave little glimpses on people living on the margins of life, their margins of life. Shouldn't that be boring? Well, I think boring is not the word, the right word is epic.
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  • Elena Tomorowitz
    January 1, 1970
    There's a part of me that wants to raise my fist for Miranda July and say, "Yeah, she GETS our generation!" But then there's the cynical part of me that wants to shake her and ask her what her deal is. It's so hard to separate Miranda July from "It Chooses You" just as much as it would be difficult to envision not-Miranda July as the main character in either of her films. It's kind of like everything she touches turns into a gummy bear or some other quirky snack that she probably eats for dinner There's a part of me that wants to raise my fist for Miranda July and say, "Yeah, she GETS our generation!" But then there's the cynical part of me that wants to shake her and ask her what her deal is. It's so hard to separate Miranda July from "It Chooses You" just as much as it would be difficult to envision not-Miranda July as the main character in either of her films. It's kind of like everything she touches turns into a gummy bear or some other quirky snack that she probably eats for dinner. Like she has branded herself and her projects. So let me stick to the book. During the writing of her script for the film "The Future," July decides to meet the people who advertise in the PennySaver catalog. The books consists of her interviews and photographs of these people. I think what she does well is treat them with respect. This project functions best as a book, and would probably lose its charm if it were a documentary. Even though some of their stories are heartbreaking or strange, they are also very real. She could never invent them as characters, because they are just people trying to live. They are not making art for art's sake. Perhaps the story that is most memorable is the couple selling CareBears. They have a bedroom in their garage because the home's other 2 bedrooms are occupied by the brother and son. And it's mostly sad because it's so necessary, and yet I would probably find it unacceptable to sleep in a garage. I don't know how else to say this. Miranda July gets it because she realizes that people are interesting and yet they are not interesting. She realizes that perhaps not everyone makes sense, including herself. Though at the same time, she talks to these people at such a distance, as an observer. I think this book is worth reading, especially because it is such a quick read and yet I think it will stick with you. I know you may be reluctant to say that Miranda July wrote something meaningful, and that McSweeney's couldn't possibly have a sense of sincerity, but if you're not willing to spend a dollar at RedBox to rent "The Future," at least give the corresponding book a shot.
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  • Chloe
    January 1, 1970
    Miranda July is my hero. In "It Chooses You," she does everything I wish I could do. She senses the overwhelming pressure of computers and online life, and fights against it. In doing this, she experiences the world of strangers living in her own neighborhood (albeit the very large neighborhood of Los Angeles), and really explores the sad state of the internet-driven social constrictions that surround modern life. Instead of reading a stranger's blog, she experiences a person's real-life "blog" Miranda July is my hero. In "It Chooses You," she does everything I wish I could do. She senses the overwhelming pressure of computers and online life, and fights against it. In doing this, she experiences the world of strangers living in her own neighborhood (albeit the very large neighborhood of Los Angeles), and really explores the sad state of the internet-driven social constrictions that surround modern life. Instead of reading a stranger's blog, she experiences a person's real-life "blog" in the flesh - she goes to their homes, observes their lives, and asks questions that I want to ask strangers everyday, but never actually do. Not only is this book funny and, at times, a bit creepy, but it's also just plain heartbreaking. Some of the PennySaver sellers have stories that are so bleak and bizarre that you can't help but feel uneasy as you read and uncomfortable as you see them in the photographs that accompany their dialogue. The heartbreak factor comes as the book draws to a close, and I found it hard to hold in tears. The book is also a reflection on time and how people deal with its constraints and and uncertainty, and Miranda July does it with honest curiosity and the familiar feeling of anxiety that surrounds personal crises.On another note, the book itself is rife with typos and other such editorial errors, so be prepared. It's kind of odd that so many mistakes were overlooked, but at least they were easy to spot and weren't so bad that they caused confusion.
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  • Shannon
    January 1, 1970
    I was a fan of Miranda July's book of short stories and found this book while ordering quirky reads for the library's collection. I was immediately drawn to the idea of answering PennySaver ads and I'm a huge fan of reading about the lives of ordinary people. And in that sense, this collection of essays nails it. July meets a small collection of heartfelt and quirky Americans. But that's the thing, I wanted more of the people and less of July. I found myself skimming over the parts about her scr I was a fan of Miranda July's book of short stories and found this book while ordering quirky reads for the library's collection. I was immediately drawn to the idea of answering PennySaver ads and I'm a huge fan of reading about the lives of ordinary people. And in that sense, this collection of essays nails it. July meets a small collection of heartfelt and quirky Americans. But that's the thing, I wanted more of the people and less of July. I found myself skimming over the parts about her screenplay and new marriage and anything else she was trying to work through herself and jumping towards the stories of the men and women selling items for less than $100 in the pages of the LA Pennysaver. I'd love to see July tackle a project like this again, but only if she can let her own story take the sideline.
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  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    I thoroughly enjoyed this odd little book (in which Miranda July, looking for inspiration to finish her screenplay, decides to interview people that she finds in the PennySaver ads). The interviews are funny, charming, and display an unvarnished array of Los Angeles citizens. Some of the dialogue, and her own commentary, is oddly touching. The subplot--about her personal life and the struggles of getting a movie finished--is quite interesting as well. The photos are pure Americana and wonderful.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    A charming snack that reminded me what it's like to be human- and how raw and rare and boundless it can be. Miranda inspired me to be the strange, creative being that is within. Anything can accumulate un-expected meaning overtime.
  • Marcy Dermansky
    January 1, 1970
    This book pleased me very much. Now I want to watch Miranda July's films which for reasons not quite clear to me -- envy perhaps -- I have avoided.
  • Stacia
    January 1, 1970
    The overall concept of the book was interesting -- contacting people advertising random items in the PennySaver & then meeting with them to see the item or items they were selling, as well as interview them a bit in general. She definitely met some interesting people, but the overall whole seems... lacking, somehow. The photography was neat & definitely needed alongside the individual sections.But, she didn't seem to ask very interesting questions of her interviewees, I think. It was all The overall concept of the book was interesting -- contacting people advertising random items in the PennySaver & then meeting with them to see the item or items they were selling, as well as interview them a bit in general. She definitely met some interesting people, but the overall whole seems... lacking, somehow. The photography was neat & definitely needed alongside the individual sections.But, she didn't seem to ask very interesting questions of her interviewees, I think. It was all pretty free-form, yet seemed somewhat shallow too, even though she was being brave (in a way), putting herself out there to meet & chat with various people (including one creepy-ish guy wearing an ankle monitor). Interspersed between the interviews, she had sections about her frustrations writing her screenplay, variations on it, etc. Those parts were boring; she never pulled me in enough to care about those sections at all. Then again, I had never heard of her or seen her movies, so maybe those sections would have been more interesting if I had some knowledge of her wider body of work.So, the concept of the interviews was interesting, but the overall whole just didn't pull it together for me. Meh. It was like a piece of performance art that just didn't quite succeed. 2 to 2.5 stars.
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  • Ellie
    January 1, 1970
    It Chooses You is a recounting of how one artist (Miranda July) dealt with writer's block: she read the local Pennysaver, a print-version Craig's List type resource often found in supermarket. She contacted several people advertising in the paper and interviewed them. The interviews are more interesting for her connection to the subjects than for their content. I found July, a performance artist, writer, and filmmaker to be a touching and fascinating presence. I looked forward to my reading of t It Chooses You is a recounting of how one artist (Miranda July) dealt with writer's block: she read the local Pennysaver, a print-version Craig's List type resource often found in supermarket. She contacted several people advertising in the paper and interviewed them. The interviews are more interesting for her connection to the subjects than for their content. I found July, a performance artist, writer, and filmmaker to be a touching and fascinating presence. I looked forward to my reading of this work because it was time I got to spend with her, at least her textual self. She is particularly powerful in the end section where she interviews an elderly man and makes him part of a film she's working on. In general, her Pennysaver interviews did not directly inform her film work but provided a point of departure for meditations on life, death, art, and the self.I have also read July's book of short stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You, which I loved. She is an evocative yet precise writer. I now badly want to see her work in other venues-especially film and performance art.Miranda July is the kind of artist who makes me excited about being alive. That's the highest recommendation I can think of.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    After owning this book for months and not picking it up (because I wasn't sure what to make of it), I loved it so much I read it cover to cover in one afternoon. It Chooses You tackles so many things at once - fear of being a terrible/fake/undeserving artist, fear of running out of ideas, fear of falling in love because that could mean someday losing that love, and fear of being alone. These themes are tackled from a couple different, and equally interesting angles. Miranda writes about her own After owning this book for months and not picking it up (because I wasn't sure what to make of it), I loved it so much I read it cover to cover in one afternoon. It Chooses You tackles so many things at once - fear of being a terrible/fake/undeserving artist, fear of running out of ideas, fear of falling in love because that could mean someday losing that love, and fear of being alone. These themes are tackled from a couple different, and equally interesting angles. Miranda writes about her own difficulties writing a script using great self-effacing humor and honest revelations about her crippling moments as a writer. She also interviews a very strange and fascinating collection of people tied together by a loose thread of using the classifieds and not really getting computers. The subjects of her interviews are both moving and creepy, and the fact that they don't all fall into one side of the spectrum is great. It's also great the way that Miranda finds something she relates to in each of them, even the ones who houses she soon wants to leave. This book made me appreciate her movie The Future in a new way, but it also made me appreciate how refreshing it is for artists to write about their darker and uncomfortable moments in such an inspiring way.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of those books that could cause a lively debate/discussion among readers (particularly nonfiction readers). I saw this happen in real time. Admittedly, when I first tackled this memoir, I was lured in by the beginning, when the narrator talks about the writing apartment she kept even after getting married, her relationship, her screen writing writer's block, and the internet dabbling. It is a book about a struggling screenwriter who can't find a sponsor or the ending to her movie, so This is one of those books that could cause a lively debate/discussion among readers (particularly nonfiction readers). I saw this happen in real time. Admittedly, when I first tackled this memoir, I was lured in by the beginning, when the narrator talks about the writing apartment she kept even after getting married, her relationship, her screen writing writer's block, and the internet dabbling. It is a book about a struggling screenwriter who can't find a sponsor or the ending to her movie, so she gets distracted by the Pennysaver magazine. Soon, she is interviewing these sellers of different quirks and character, and detailing the experience in a memoir. July has a distinct voice on the page, that's for sure. Somewhere in the middle though I was lost in the very different interviews that could perhaps have been singular essays. But. After seeing Miranda read this aloud at my seminar, after seeing her quirk come full force in the middle of a writing discussion, the book and the many characters in it, came alive. If you've ever seen her film "The Future" you've seen snippets of this book: the pennysaver magazine, the dancer who gets dancer block, etc.
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  • Alice Urchin
    January 1, 1970
    I was feeling nostalgic and rereading No One Belongs Here More Than You when I was stricken with this need to buy all of Miranda July's books off of Amazon. This one arrived today, and I read it in one sitting. For the most part, it satisfied the craving that I was having, but at the end of it, I just felt really weird and sad...which is sort of a tone of a lot of the book. I didn't know this when I started reading it, but in it, she had taken a break from writing The Future because she's sort o I was feeling nostalgic and rereading No One Belongs Here More Than You when I was stricken with this need to buy all of Miranda July's books off of Amazon. This one arrived today, and I read it in one sitting. For the most part, it satisfied the craving that I was having, but at the end of it, I just felt really weird and sad...which is sort of a tone of a lot of the book. I didn't know this when I started reading it, but in it, she had taken a break from writing The Future because she's sort of stuck and can't bring herself to work on it, even though she's basically done with it. As a distraction from her writer's block, she decides to interview people she meets via ads in the Pennysaver, hoping that eventually she will learn something from doing this that will inspire her to finish her screenplay. Everything pretty much works out, in a strange, bittersweet way. Though it mostly inspired me to lay in bed and feel sad and weird, rather than inspiring me to work on the novella I've been writing, I mostly enjoyed it.
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  • Gosia
    January 1, 1970
    This kind of book you want to keep reading but you don't want to finish. Amazing. I remember watching 'Me and you and everyone else we know' after it came out and I was maybe sill too young for it but I remember it left me with some indescribable feeling. I had this feeling all along reading this book.Especially as I just had a baby and this is one of the topics Miranda wonders about.Especially as I spend way too much time online and I feel I don't live the real life. Especially as I'm procrasti This kind of book you want to keep reading but you don't want to finish. Amazing. I remember watching 'Me and you and everyone else we know' after it came out and I was maybe sill too young for it but I remember it left me with some indescribable feeling. I had this feeling all along reading this book.Especially as I just had a baby and this is one of the topics Miranda wonders about.Especially as I spend way too much time online and I feel I don't live the real life. Especially as I'm procrastinating instead of getting my projects done.This book it's about it all and much more. I want to read it again and again.Unfortunately I borrowed it from the library as I planned to spend less money on books. What a mistake. I will be getting this one in no time.Ps. Now I'm going to reread "No one belongs here more than you". I'm curious how much my brain and my emotions changed since the first time.Love you long time, Miranda. What a very special artist.
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  • Karolina
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 - fajna lektura na leniwy wieczór. Ale nie jest to wielka literatura.
  • Dkaufman
    January 1, 1970
    This book doesn't reinvent the wheel or anything but it made me think. July always keeps me interested.
  • Christopher
    January 1, 1970
    Miranda July is a difficult writer for me to like. Something about her just embodies the whole essence of all that is twee and precious and utterly indigestible with a certain branch of post-modern literature. Even contemplating the phrase "post-modern literature" kind of makes me shiver, as if I had little spiders with bi-level haircuts crawling up my neck. I tried watching her film "The Future", and while I think there was a lot about it that was competent - it looked nice, the characters were Miranda July is a difficult writer for me to like. Something about her just embodies the whole essence of all that is twee and precious and utterly indigestible with a certain branch of post-modern literature. Even contemplating the phrase "post-modern literature" kind of makes me shiver, as if I had little spiders with bi-level haircuts crawling up my neck. I tried watching her film "The Future", and while I think there was a lot about it that was competent - it looked nice, the characters weren't the worst in the world, some of the ideas were interesting, and Miranda July appears to be a capable actress and director - the film was ultimately just too much of (for lack of a better diss) an unwitting Calvin Klein cologne ad parody for my tastes. I liked a lot of what she was trying to address with the movie, but there was a shiny, smartly-designed barrier of artsy PoMo between me and the kernels of truth being dangled throughout her screenplay.So I have no idea why I felt compelled to read "It Chooses You", which is essentially a companion piece to the film, aside from the facts that a) I liked the cover art, b) I thought it might present the movie in some beautiful new light that would make me race to my Netflix queue to give "The Future" another go, and c) I was intrigued by the idea of a series of interviews with people July met through PennySaver circulars.And you know what, I'm glad I followed my nose. "It Chooses You" was a very rewarding read in which she profiled very real people in a very real way. If her movie was overdressed in skinny jeans and checkered bandanas, her sister book stands completely nude, not at all in a lascivious way, but with delicate transparancy.I appreciated one of the biggest conflicts of this book - the fact that those of us who have adapted to the Internet age are bound to a certain level of ADD-addled thought, while most of the people who regularly post PennySaver ads are those who can't be bothered with CraigsList or eBay, and who, in the series of interviews, tend to say "I don't know much about computers. Maybe someday, but I just don't know about them."These people read like a dying breed, but not in a way that necessarily paints them as primitives or "less than" in any way. If anything, these profiles cast a finger at us, showing us what we have lost with our Google culture and our dependence on everything being a mouseclick away. These people are presented maybe as an endangered species or maybe as inspirations. Maybe both?Miranda July touches on other things in this book, and she presents a fairly wide spectrum of interview subjects, along with photos of her interviewees and the items they're selling in the PennySaver. I don't feel like she comes off as patronizing, the urbane educated artiste in the valley of savages, though sometimes I was frightened she was about to make that plunge. She never did.I don't know if "It Chooses You" has won me over to the wit and wonder of all things Miranda July, but I did really appreciate this little book and all its thoughtfulness. Reading it will leave you a little bit better off than you were before you picked it up.
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  • Belinda
    January 1, 1970
    Recently married Miranda July gets stuck while working on the screenplay of her second feature film, The Future. While deliberately not working on her computer, with its endless distractions, she flicks through a free magazine distributed to LA residents called the PennySaver, in which people advertise items for sale (note: it is in the PennySaver that Juno finds the adoptive parents for her baby in the movie Juno). In a somewhat epic act of procrastination, Miranda decides to investigate the ki Recently married Miranda July gets stuck while working on the screenplay of her second feature film, The Future. While deliberately not working on her computer, with its endless distractions, she flicks through a free magazine distributed to LA residents called the PennySaver, in which people advertise items for sale (note: it is in the PennySaver that Juno finds the adoptive parents for her baby in the movie Juno). In a somewhat epic act of procrastination, Miranda decides to investigate the kind of person who advertises in the PennySaver, ringing people at random and offering them $50 to let her interview them, tell their story and photograph their house. It Chooses You is the result of that investigation.In general, I enjoyed the book. July's style is very New Girl quirky, which I don't mind in small doses. I was, however, a little bit uncomfortable about how she represented some of the people she interviewed. Some of them she found creepy, others she found sad and lonely, a few disgusted her and she pitied all of them for their poverty. I hope she ended up giving them more than $50 and that none of them actually read this book. It is a very unsympathetic portrait of people I felt in general deserved better from the rich, white woman who takes their lives and turns them into stories for very little recompense.Reading this book and July's reaction to people outside her social and work circle felt a bit like what I imagine it's like reading an alien's view of another species. She seemed to have no conception that people lived like in this way and at times seemed to even struggle communicating with the people she was interviewing. She was unable to relate to them in any way outside the film industry, and it's telling that the ones she liked, she wanted to bring into her movies, because that was the only way she could interact with them. The whole time I was reading It Chooses You I kept thinking *surely* no-one could be this clueless? Surely no-one could be this protected and privileged and chronically unaware of how protected and privileged she is? I mean, the people she interviewed were so very poor they were selling items for $1 pro $2 while July moved in with her husband but kept her own apartment as a private space without even seeming to notice that the cost of maintaining two households would be prohibitive for definitely everyone she interviewed but also most people in America. But then I read in her bio she was raised in Portland, Oakland and Berkeley to writer parents and has married a film director so maybe she really is. Maybe, however, it's a persona she's developed. I don't know. Either way, I would only recommend this book if you have a high tolerance for quirk and twee and patiences for the cluelessness of a rich person with no self-awareness.
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  • jess
    January 1, 1970
    The premise is that Miranda July is writing a screenplay (now a motion picture "THE FUTURE") but she's having some issues with her writing/revising, and as a distraction, she starts responding to ads in the Pennysaver, interviewing each subject, ostensibly trying to get to the bottom of what they are selling, why they're selling it, and who they are. But, you know, it's Miranda July, so really it's about love, failure/success, art, and the broken ways we humans get through the world. Brigitte Si The premise is that Miranda July is writing a screenplay (now a motion picture "THE FUTURE") but she's having some issues with her writing/revising, and as a distraction, she starts responding to ads in the Pennysaver, interviewing each subject, ostensibly trying to get to the bottom of what they are selling, why they're selling it, and who they are. But, you know, it's Miranda July, so really it's about love, failure/success, art, and the broken ways we humans get through the world. Brigitte Sire, a photographer, accompanies July to provide portraits of each person and their home. I loved Joe, the 81-year-old guy selling christmas card fronts, and Miranda clearly loved him too, since she wrote him into her movie, THE FUTURE. The opening story (a MTF transsexual who is selling her large leather jacket) was touching but the narrative was awkward - like Miranda didn't know how to handle pronouns. All of the stories are intimate, strange and poignant; several of them are a little creepy, too. I wonder if Miranda met some people in her Pennysavers journey that were edited out. I always feel more strongly about Miranda July's work when I'm in the throes of it, but I'm not sure how much it lingers afterwards. When I read No One Belongs Here More Than You, I was madly in love with it at the time, but five years later, I can't remember it at all. I suspect this book will have the same fate.
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  • Sian Lile-Pastore
    January 1, 1970
    well, this was just great. It's also really honest, funny, odd and a little sad (I may have cried at the end). If you've seen July's films this is going to make more sense to you, but if you haven't seen them you'll want to after reading this. It's a book about writing, Miranda July is trying to finish writing her screenplay (which becomes the film 'The Future'...)"This story takes place in 2009, right after our wedding. I was writing a screenplay in the little house. I wrote it at the kitchen t well, this was just great. It's also really honest, funny, odd and a little sad (I may have cried at the end). If you've seen July's films this is going to make more sense to you, but if you haven't seen them you'll want to after reading this. It's a book about writing, Miranda July is trying to finish writing her screenplay (which becomes the film 'The Future'...)"This story takes place in 2009, right after our wedding. I was writing a screenplay in the little house. I wrote it at the kitchen table, or in my old bed with its thrift-store sheets. Or, as anyone who has tried to write anything recently knows, these are the places where I set the stage for writing but instead looked things up online."To avoid the writing July starts meeting up with and interviewing people from the 'pennysaver', which kind of becomes her vision quest. She meets a lady who has dogs called Raspberry, Squooshy and Puppy-Puppy which I really liked, and she also meets Don Johnson (though not through the pennysaver). The last bit is about how she met Joe who is actually IN the film and he is wonderful (and also the voice of the moon in the film which I didn't realise).The photos are really great too and it's sort of like a memoir/art book type thing... a little Sophie Calle, but that is always good. It's possibly my most favourite thing that Miranda July has ever done, and that's saying something.
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  • Frederic Germay
    January 1, 1970
    After seeing 'Me, You, & Everyone We Know' and 'The Future,' I was astonished by how bravely artistic the writer/director, Miranda July, was. Being immaturely impatient, the idea of simply waiting until her next movie came out sounded awfully unpleasant. And so I came across this book.It Chooses You is short, sweet, and vividly colorful. In it, Ms. July details a social experiment of hers, where she scoured the pennysaver ads and visited the individuals who were selling these little trivial After seeing 'Me, You, & Everyone We Know' and 'The Future,' I was astonished by how bravely artistic the writer/director, Miranda July, was. Being immaturely impatient, the idea of simply waiting until her next movie came out sounded awfully unpleasant. And so I came across this book.It Chooses You is short, sweet, and vividly colorful. In it, Ms. July details a social experiment of hers, where she scoured the pennysaver ads and visited the individuals who were selling these little trivial things. She interviews them, takes photos, and goes on tours of their quaint houses - painting an intimate picture of these people for the readers.It brings to mind an idea I found in one of Wallace's books - that we only exist if we're written about, remembered, taken photos of - that sort of thing. I don't know if that was ultimately Ms. July's goal, but these personal portraits of hers, some sad, some endearing, some quite creepy - I feel like I know these people now. I'm not sure why or how, but that's worth something. Perhaps It Chooses You is a humble testament to the existence of those who choose the quiet life, rather than vainly trying to permeate popular culture.I took two stars off the total because it didn't quite feel like a book to me. It would've been better suited as a film. And it was, sort of, in 'The Future.'
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  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    Loved the movie The Future. And loved this book. We were lucky enough to catch a Q&A with Miranda July following a screening of The Future at the ArcLight, and I'd read some articles about the making of the movie, so I knew the back story with the character of Joe (the old man who advertises the hairdryer in the Penny Saver). But even if I hadn't known what was coming, I probably still would've bawled throughout the last chapter of this book."I thought about his sixty-two years of sweet, fil Loved the movie The Future. And loved this book. We were lucky enough to catch a Q&A with Miranda July following a screening of The Future at the ArcLight, and I'd read some articles about the making of the movie, so I knew the back story with the character of Joe (the old man who advertises the hairdryer in the Penny Saver). But even if I hadn't known what was coming, I probably still would've bawled throughout the last chapter of this book."I thought about his sixty-two years of sweet, filthy cards and something unspooled in my chest. Maybe I had miscalculated what was left of my life. Maybe it wasn't loose change. Or, actually, the whole thing was loose change, from start to finish -- many, many little moments, each holiday, each Valentine, each year unbearably repetitive and yet somehow always new. You could never buy anything with it, you could never cash it in for something more valuable or more whole. It was just all these days, held together only by the fragile memory of one person -- or, if you were lucky, two. And because of this, this lack of inherent meaning or value, it was stunning. Like the most intricate, radical piece of art, the kind of art I was always trying to make. It dared to mean nothing and so demanded everything of you."
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