‘Roy Spivey’ by Miranda July

When I read Miranda July’s first collection, No One Belongs Here More Than You, I was delighted to discover her. I love the apparent simplicity of the story, the way it works on the absence of an action rather than the main character undertaking one. The tone is not as knowing as Lorrie Moore’s, from whom I guess, she learnt. July subverts the form a little, which is what the story form allows. It’s not a showy or tricksy story. In fact, as it hinges on a girl’s interest in a movie star she meets on a plane, it seems at first to be verging into the well-worn territory of a young woman transfixed by a male. But it’s not like that. For all the man’s desire to communicate, she fails to take up his offer. The story begins in a small intimate way, the close proximity of plane seats and opens out to years having passed. It’s deft but conveys a sweep of longing and the great and forever question we all address to ourselves, ‘What if…?”

First published in The New Yorker, June 2007, and available to subscribers here. Or listen to David Sedaris reading it here. It is collected in The Book of Other People, edited by Zadie Smith, Penguin, 2008

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