Well, this is an odd little book. As Miranda July was struggling with writing a screenplay for what would become The Future, she became obsessed wtih people who placed ads in the Pennysaver, one of those cheap newsprint forerunners of Craigslist that still exist in some areas. She began calling some of the people who'd placed the ads, and then she'd visit them and, with their permission, film them and talk to them about their lives.
What results is part heart-rending and part horrific. July uses these encounters to reflect on her own life and the problems she's having with the screenplay. Too often she comes across as condescending, and I have to wonder if any of her subjects have read the book--if they have, I feel bad for them. As odd as some of them are, it feels invasive and slightly icky to read about them like this. The final story about a man who ultimately had a cameo in the movie is almost touching, except for a misunderstanding July had about a conversation she had with the man's wife that would be better left out of the book altogether.
Reading this, I found myself thinking about Diane Arbus, then realized that that's not quite an apt comparison. A better choice would be Vivian Maier, with her focus on what are seemingly normal people who, viewed through a certain lens, take on more grotesque properties.
Either way, I felt slightly squeamish reading this book, and am glad to be done with it.