adventures with craigslist’s grandpa (miranda july)


my friend e. was excited when she got this book, so i asked to borrow it. It chooses You by miranda july is an unusual, entertaining, interesting read. the premise is this: in order to cope with / distract herself from her writer’s block, miranda sets out to meet the people behind the free ads in the pennysaver. this is a quick read – the book contains many full-page photographs of the sellers and their wares or homes. some of the items are unusual – bullfrog tadpoles, for example (my personal favorite!), and a set of photo albums full of pictures of complete strangers. 

bullfrog tadpole

most interesting, however, are the people. these are the kinds of people who can only be found by accident, by chance, people she would probably otherwise never have spoken to. they have very different hopes and dreams and plans for the future. they have quirks. if this book does nothing else, it drives home the point that people, strangers, are inherently interesting. july makes the following observation:

[…] I doggedly asked each PennySaver seller if they used a computer. They mostly didn’t, and though they had a lot to say about other things, they didn’t have much to say about this, this absence. I began to feel that I was asking the question just to remind myself that I was in a place where computers didn’t really matter, just to prompt my appreciation for this. (160)

it may seem strange for someone to just answer your ad and want to meet you and interview you, but when you think about it, it’s not any more strange than what many of us to daily on the internet: we read the journals of complete strangers, we can look at their family photos and even leave comments, we can ‘like’ and repost what they show or tell us.

would you buy someone else’s vacation photos?

my favorite parts of the book were the very first encounter, with michael who is selling a black leather jacket, and the encounter with domingo, which really is a second-degree encounter, seeing that he did not actually put up an ad at all – he just happens to be the brother, living in the same house as the seller. get your hands on a copy of this book.

i just found that the new yorker, bless them, have put excerpts from the book online, so if i have managed to pique your interest, have a peek:

michael / leather jacket


About annette.c.boehm

words escape me.

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