Miranda July Celebrates Her New Novel, ‘All Fours,’ with Star-Studded Party
Gathering of Friends and Literary Luminaries Marks Milestone for Multifaceted Artist
On a balmy February evening, Miranda July, the celebrated multi-hyphenate artist, marked a momentous occasion in her literary career – the imminent publication of her second novel, ‘All Fours.’ Scheduled to hit bookstores in spring 2024, the highly anticipated work was feted at a star-studded soirée held at the Library at the Public, a charming bar perched above the bustling lobby of the Public Theater.
Drawn by the allure of July’s distinctive storytelling prowess, a distinguished crowd gathered to celebrate the milestone. Notable figures from the worlds of art, literature, and entertainment graced the event, including the enigmatic David Byrne, the fashion-forward Tavi Gevinson, the effervescent Busy Philipps, the acclaimed Annie Hamilton, and the captivating Bobbi Salvör Menuez. Amidst this esteemed assembly, July engaged in a lively tête-à-tête with Elif Batuman, the esteemed novelist and New Yorker staff writer, delving into the intricate journey that led to the creation of ‘All Fours.’
Long Road to Publication and Inspiration Behind ‘All Fours’
Before the celebratory party, where July cut a striking figure in an elegant black-and-gold Miu Miu skirt suit, she shared her palpable anticipation for holding the physical galley copy of the book for the first time. Expressing a sense of disbelief at being away from her writing desk, her sanctuary for creative immersion, July also conveyed her admiration for Batuman’s literary prowess and her eagerness to engage in a meaningful dialogue about the book and their shared passion for writing.
While July is widely recognized for her offbeat films that capture the nuances of human experience, she firmly established her prowess as a candid and distinctive fiction writer with her 2007 collection of short stories, ‘No One Belongs Here More Than You,’ and her 2015 debut novel, ‘The First Bad Man.’ In her conversation with Batuman, July revealed that the genesis of her second novel stemmed from an extensive research project that delved into the complexities of menopause.
The novel, which follows the introspective journey of a 40-something woman seeking self-discovery amidst life’s transitions, originated from July’s 2017 short story, ‘The Metal Bowl,’ published in The New Yorker. However, before the book took its final form, July embarked on a deep dive into menopause research, driven by a personal connection to the topic.
Citing ‘Women Have Been Misled About Menopause,’ a February 2023 article by Susan Dominus in The New York Times Magazine, July shared that she had independently reached similar conclusions about menopause. This exploration consumed her as she delved into the writing process.
Research and Its Influence on the Novel’s Narrative
July meticulously conducted research, engaging in conversations with gynecologists, naturopaths, and older women to gain a comprehensive understanding of the experiences associated with menopause. Initially, she envisioned incorporating this research into the book, aiming to create an informative narrative that captured the essence of this life stage.
However, as the writing progressed, July realized that the novel’s primary purpose was not to serve as an informational pamphlet. She recognized that readers seek a journey, an unfolding story that captivates their attention and engages their emotions. Consequently, she made the decision to scale back the research-heavy content, although it continued to subtly influence the narrator’s voice and experiences.
Reflecting on this process, July humorously recalled a conversation with her editor at the publishing house Riverhead, where she expressed her perplexity about why the information couldn’t be condensed into a pamphlet. The audience erupted in laughter at her candid admission. July acknowledged that, at the time, she was genuinely serious about this idea, and her editor had to patiently explain the fundamental appeal of novels to readers.
Exploring Aging as a Risky Yet Adventurous Endeavor
July’s choice of cover art for ‘All Fours’ further illuminates her perspective on aging. The book’s cover features a 19th-century Albert Bierstadt painting depicting a cliff and the river valley below. She explained that this image resonated with her as it evoked the idea that aging, particularly perimenopause and menopause, could possess an inherent allure and sense of adventure.
July remarked that this stage of life is often shrouded in secrecy and misconceptions, but she believes there is an untapped potential for empowerment and liberation within it. She described this phase as a wide-open frontier, akin to the Wild West, where societal norms and expectations can be challenged and redefined.
Conclusion: A Celebration of Literary Achievement and the Journey of Self-Discovery
The launch of ‘All Fours’ marks a significant milestone in Miranda July’s literary career. The novel promises to be a thought-provoking and deeply personal exploration of aging, self-discovery, and the complexities of human experience. July’s dedication to her craft and her unique perspective on life shine through in this highly anticipated work.
The star-studded celebration at the Library at the Public served as a testament to July’s talent and the enduring power of storytelling. As she embarks on the next chapter of her literary journey, readers eagerly await the opportunity to delve into the world of ‘All Fours’ and discover the profound insights it holds.