I just finished reading this book and wanted to write about it, while the feelings are still fresh. I sat and read the entire book in one afternoon. I could not stop reading it.
I stumbled upon this book and had ordered it from Amazon. It was one of those… if you like this… you’ll love this type of marketing tactics that Amazon does. But – I took the bait and bought the book after having read the synopsis…. which sounds intriguing and “right up my alley” (as my mother would say).
The author, Miranda July, had started reading the PennySaver, which is a classified ad type flyer, that allows people to post their items for free, as long as the item was being sold for less than $100. As the author notes in her book, sort of like Craigslist (or Kijii) for those that haven’t entered into the world of the internet yet. So Miranda starts looking and reading the PennySaver cover to cover and becomes curious about who the people are behind the ads in the PennySaver. She wanted to know who the person was that was selling the “Large leather Jacket, $10?” and what that person was all about.
So Miranda called up people from the PennySaver and asked to meet with them and offered to pay them $50 to allow her to interview them. Most turned her down but some more adventurous souls or perhaps those desperate enough to earn the $50, accepted her proposal.
Miranda brought with her to each interview, two friends, Brigitte Sire who was the photographer and Alfred her assistant, who was there to “protect them from rape”. Brigitte the photographer, captured the other half of the story… in pictures. Candid type pictures of the person being interviewed, as well as their living environment, their calendars, and sometimes taking photos of the interviewees photographs, photo albums or scrapbooks.
The people she meets are fascinating. The author isn’t afraid to ask questions… but does so in a way that is gentle, compassionate and understanding toward each individual’s different set of circumstances. I feel like her personality, lent a great deal of weight towards each of these interviewees trusting her, opening up to her and revealing their inner selves. I found that with certain interviewees – I was left wanting more. I wanted to know even more about the people behind the items being sold in the PennySaver, just like the author did… view yet unseen.
There is a lot more to the book, than just the interviews and photographs. The author also asks the reader questions about how the internet is providing an alternate world, so to speak, in which people do not discover others who are different from them, in the same way anymore. She notes the affect that the internet has had on our generations new view of what ‘reality’ is… what our ‘world’ now has become for us. One we created.
The book, felt like a journey and at the end of it, I found my eyes watering at the beauty of people. The beauty of our differences, the beauty of our life’s path but also the beauty of the end of life’s path and how both meaningful and meaningless it all can be.
Highly, highly recommend this book.