cover image All Fours

All Fours

Miranda July. Riverhead, $29 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-19026-5

In the hilarious, sexy, and wonderfully weird latest from July (The First Bad Man), a 40-something artist tries to reinvent herself while reckoning with middle age. The unnamed narrator’s choice to drive instead of fly from Los Angeles to New York City for a two-week writing retreat stems from a desire to “follow beauty,” as her libidinous lesbian friend encourages her to do. In this tenderhearted mode, the narrator barely makes it beyond the city limits before checking into a Monrovia, Calif., motel. The initial draw is a boyish 31-year-old named Davey, whom she first encounters at a gas station where he squeegees her windshield. She also becomes strangely attached to her room, and hires Davey’s decorator wife, Claire, to sink thousands of dollars into a luxe rehab job. While Claire works, the narrator makes regular calls to her husband, Harris, telling him about various fictitious stops on her abandoned itinerary. After the two weeks are up, the narrator returns home, although the Monrovia motel room turns out to play a central role in her attempt to find fulfilment as she faces menopause and mortality. July lightens those weighty themes with a steady supply of bizarre erotic interludes and offbeat one-liners (“False modesty is one of those things that’s hard to go easy on, like squirting whipped cream from a can,” the narrator acknowledges, after telling a stranger she’s “kind of a public figure”). This is a revelation. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, Wylie Agency. (May)