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August 08, 2007

Unusual Author Site

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Is the website that author Miranda July made for her new book refreshing and creative, or is it the twee-est, most over-whimsical thing ever committed to pixels?



posted by Michael at August 8, 2007


I vote for the latter.

Posted by: Bryan on August 8, 2007 6:42 PM

I vote twee. An amusing idea or two played for a lot more than they were worth.


Posted by: Judith on August 8, 2007 7:22 PM

As far as I am concerned, it is a joke that lasts
too long, waiting for all those pages to load up puts me in a bad mood.

Posted by: Adriana on August 8, 2007 7:27 PM

I know two things for sure: she has a refrigerator top and a stove top that are far cleaner than mine. And I like her teakettle. But why is her oatmeal so toasted looking?

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on August 8, 2007 7:31 PM

Clever one time through. Though I find her appealing, somehow.

Posted by: PatrickH on August 8, 2007 7:51 PM

We all are on the same track--great concept overplayed out. Like a little kid that gets a laugh and then you can't stop him as he repeats whatever he said or did to get the attention. A sharper and better use of the medium of a website for marketing would have been to switch to a full fledged site in steps, just as promised ("I'm building...")in the opening page.

Posted by: susan on August 8, 2007 8:51 PM

I enjoyed the whimsy. It didn't get old for me. In fact, I'll be back to look it over again. I'm interested in her fiction in a way I wouldn't have been without the "white board" approach. One more thing: she knows it's a bit much and turns it into a light self-parody.

Guess I'm easily pleased. It's kind of a fun way of making my way in the world!

Posted by: raymond pert on August 8, 2007 9:49 PM

Can you imagine a guy doing something like that?
Thought not

Posted by: B Wood on August 9, 2007 12:58 AM

It's one of those things that's funny at first, then goes on too long, then keeps going on so long that it becomes funny again. I approve.

Posted by: BP on August 9, 2007 1:14 AM

I liked it. And I learned the readership of 2BH is a bitter lot. Get laid or something, people!

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on August 9, 2007 1:46 AM

I didn't finish it. That says something about one of us.

Posted by: Lester Hunt on August 9, 2007 3:22 AM

I think it's cool. And she makes fun of herself in it, too, - which is rare in "writing circles".
Good recommendation on a book by Bruno Munari - tnx, Miranda!
Her kitchen needs some cleaning, though, and possibly a handyman: the tiles on the countertop are falling off.

Posted by: Tat on August 9, 2007 7:06 AM

Even if it's a bit twee and goes on a bit longer than it might, I enjoyed it. Given the countless websites out there that are clones of copies of templates it was fun to see someone come up with an amusing twist. I also liked the high/low tech dichotomy.

Posted by: Chris White on August 9, 2007 7:56 AM

I'm with Todd Fletcher.

Posted by: Brian on August 9, 2007 8:01 AM

I'd seen a few months ago and liked it then and now. Certainly a refreshing approach to a website. Interestingly, she annoyed the crap out of me in her movie.

Posted by: the patriarch on August 9, 2007 9:43 AM

It's awful, but it's an excellent barometer of whether or not you'll like July's movie and book. I haven't read the book, but if I'd seen this silly ass website first I'd never have wasted my time with the movie.

Posted by: Michael P on August 9, 2007 11:30 AM

It's twee, but enjoyable. It makes me want to know her, but not buy her book.

Posted by: Sluggo on August 9, 2007 11:33 AM

She has nice looking hands. Was I supposed to notice that?

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on August 9, 2007 12:00 PM

i had to look up the definition of twee.

[covers face and runs away]

Posted by: jenny on August 9, 2007 12:17 PM

I'd say it's both. But I like it.

And B Wood, I can absolutely imagine a guy doing it -- Eggers, Foer, or any of those who aspire to be them (and there are thousands of such aspirants out there, even if many of them will deny it until they're blue in the face).

Posted by: JMW on August 9, 2007 1:13 PM

I enjoyed that site quite a bit. Made me more interested in the book than a traditional site would.

Certainly not the _most_ whimsical thing on the internet, though. Just look at the scrapbook section of Radiohead's site.

Nonetheless, July's site comes rather close. I appreciate the originality.

Posted by: maria on August 9, 2007 1:33 PM

Let's see.
1) She does things on the cheap.
2) She sees uses where one normally sees bland coverings.
3) She doesn't take herself seriously.
4) She's a multi-surface artist.
What's not to like.

Especially loved the bit where she suggests that a reader should buy both books (of different colors) to match one's clothes. She can write and she can market herself.

Posted by: DarkoV on August 9, 2007 2:32 PM

Interesting that someone brought up Dave Eggers, since July is the worst thing to hit literature SINCE Eggers. Her "performance art" makes me long for the old-time craziness of Karen Finley, back when the form was goofy and dangerous. July's self-promotion and her art are one: Both feign unironic sensitivity. In her fiction, she routinely violates first-person storytelling by having her narrators parrot July's own oddball observations and laugh lines. Her website shows a similar unscrupulous savvy, lulling the viewer into accepting her shameless hard sell with falsely intimate glimpses into her kitchen.

Perhaps the most egregious thing about her debut story collection, though, is July's equally shameless ripoff of my favorite contemporary prose writer, Mary Gaitskill. Gaitskill has too much integrity to contrive a promotional website in her kitchen, but she reveals her soul with unprecedented bravery in her writing, especially her most recent novel Veronica.

Posted by: Ben Kessler on August 9, 2007 3:27 PM

Would a guy do a promo like this? Yes. I wish I'd thought of it.

Posted by: Fred Wickham on August 10, 2007 12:02 AM

I think it's marvelous! And have since I saw it months ago (geeky designers are always tipping each other off to stuff, partly to share, mainly to up their geek cred).

It makes me wonder if most of you would have found it cooler had you seen it months ago, too--there's something to hitting the zeitgeist in the sweet spot--or if it self-selects for non-crankybutts.

You have to admit, there is a high crankybutt quotient here on 2BH.

Posted by: communicatrix on August 10, 2007 10:51 AM

I guess I find it amusing and creative but a little annoying too. It's a little winsome and self-pleased in an "I'm so clever-cute" kind of way. Still, it is clever -- it certainly isn't the usual author site. Reminds me a bit of some indiechick singer, the kind who's kind of catchy and talented but sings with one of those annoying feisty/bawling-12-year-old voices.

Actually the thing that strikes me most about it is how characteristic it is of something very current: Taking a tiny idea and giving it a really lavish production. Computers seem to encourage and enable this. I talked to an oldtime ad legend once who said pretty much the same thing: These days, graphix and ad people have a quarter of an idea then leap into action with Illustrator and such and overproduce it. But, y'know, maybe that's just the way the world is today. I'm always surprised by how high a level of production-value kids are used to these days -- dramatic TV shows have a cyber-luxe quality that fullscale movies didn't used to have.

Overproduction in this particular case having to do with giving entire web pages over to a few words and a dumb photo each. On the other hand: Why not? What's the harm? Kinda cute!

So why is there still something in me that wants to give her a shake?

Signed: CEO Crankybutt

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 10, 2007 11:05 AM

The day my girlfriend and I saw the Miranda July movie she was suffering from a horrible, horrible infected tooth, which she'd just had removed, leaving a marble-sized hole in her jaw where the dentist had scooped out a black, gunky cyst. So she was doped to the gills on heinous opiates.

Nonetheless, Jen was game to go see an art film. So we did.

About half an hour into the experience the opiates did as opiates do. Horse, even a la pill, is hard on the gut and strikes like a krait. Jen barely avoided leaving a pile of oatmeal and half-dissolved Dilaudid on the seat next to us.

But after she returned from the facilities there was a hurried if hushed discussion, and we decided it was essential to depart the scene. First, there was the possibility that the Big D might wear off, leaving Jen, in her weakened state, exposed to Miranda July without benefit of anaesthetic. Second, my stomach was also starting to rumble a little.

This is my only association with the "Miranda July" brand. I don't even recall the title of her film. The whole experience has been blocked at the mental level. I recall it only intestinally.

Posted by: Mencius on August 10, 2007 3:13 PM

Mencius, I think you and your girlfriend are pehaps the only people ever to have a visceral reaction to anything Miranda July has done. Her work is whatever the opposite of visceral is.

Posted by: the patriarch on August 11, 2007 11:22 AM

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