Esteemed Toronto author Sheila Heti opened up the evening with an intro that was so beautifully perfect we've decided to share it again here:
"One has to wonder if Miranda July never has sex.Because we all know that the urge to fuck and the urge to make art can come from the same place—and often in fact feel the same—that rising of lust or inspiration, which you can feel inside your whole body—the impatient need to move outside yourself and into your work, or into someone—the urge to make contact—the urge to not be totally alone!Some artists seem to exist behind a wall, all alone, while other do everything they can to step out from behind that wall, and it’s there that their art takes place. Miranda July is easily one of the best and most inspiring of our contemporaries working in front of that wall.I often think about her exhaustive output—sensitive, beautiful and utterly idiosyncratic: her two feature films, her many short films, her short story collection, this recent book, her performances, her performance CDs, her interactive web project, Learning To Love You More. I think of all the ways she is supportive of other artists and filmmakers—and how supportive she is of her family! I think of her twitter feed, her blog, the emails she sends me (and so many others) twice a week—with helpful sentences about how to move into the future, and I think: This is a woman who knows what to do with her energy. And here is an artist who was born at the right time. Even if she was born at some other time, she’d use all the tools and technologies at her disposal to make contact with us. Making contact is clearly what matters. Miranda July is not afraid to make the first move.What can we know for sure about someone who makes the first move? They experience fear, but are courageous. And their focus is not on any potential embarrassment or shame—it’s on connecting in a way that feels good.The good-enough artist, like the good-enough lover, mainly thinks about how it feels for them. The amazing artist, like the amazing lover, is thinking about you.Brave, present, resourceful, lustful...Ladies and gentleman, I am excited to introduce the one you have been thinking about, who has been thinking about you, the extremely amazing, Miranda July."
Miranda appeared on stage and started off the evening reading passages from her brand new book It Chooses You (McSweeneys), which details Miranda's experiences answering Penny Saver advertisements and her encounters with the people who placed them.
Through her interviews, Miranda not only allows us access to the stories behind the items they're (sometimes begrudgingly) selling but into their lives as well. Miranda's fascination with why and what people love and her innate respect for their idiosyncrasies makes the book a must-read, not just for fans of her previous work, but for armchair anthropologists everywhere.
Between readings, Miranda would step aside and play short video recordings of audience members she'd personally selected from the (long) line-up outside before the doors opened. These lucky people were each given the name of another audience member (whose names were randomly selected earlier as well) whom they've never previously met, and told to give that person a compliment. The results of this exercise were a lot of fun to watch. Thank you to those who were chosen to participate, you were all great!
Another highlight of the evening was when Miranda, asking if anyone knew how to sing the Miley Cyrus song "The Climb", had only one person out of 600 respond affirmatively. After noting that perhaps this question would enjoy more respondants if it were posed in L.A. - as opposed to Montreal - she asked this lone courageous lady to come on stage and sing it (and she did a wonderful job!)
After the surprise addition of a Q&A, Miranda finished the evening off by signing her books (and some DVDs) and handled a very long line with good humour and grace. The genuine affection she holds for her fans was very much on display this evening.
Big thanks to to Media@McGill who co-sponsored the evening along with McGill's Art History and Communication Studies Department Speaker Series and the Canada Research Chair in Technology and Citizenship. Thank you to Mark Slutsky & Michael Baker for handling our considerable A/V needs so ably and with considerable panache, Walter from the Ukrainian Federation and -of course- a huge thanks to Sheila Heti for her eloquent introduction and all of you Librairie D&Q faithfuls who showed up in such great numbers and made this night the grand success that it was!
If you weren't able to attend or even if you were, but didn't get a chance to purchase her new book, we always keep her books in stock at the Ol' Librairie D&Q, so come by and pick up It Chooses You first chance you get. It's that good!
Oh, and Miranda? Come back again soon, Montreal loves you!