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If you’re searching for a novel that combines wit and emotional depth, look no further than Miranda July’s “The First Bad Man” audiobook. In this review, we will delve into the captivating story and character development of this acclaimed novel, as well as the skillful narration style employed by the audiobook. As we explore the various themes present in the book, we will also examine the use of visual imagery and the critical and listener reception of this novel. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the world of “The First Bad Man” by Miranda July.

Overview of “The First Bad Man”

The First Bad Man by Miranda July is a novel that explores themes of love, sexuality, and the complexities of human relationships. The story centers around the life of Cheryl Glickman, a middle-aged woman working at a self-defense studio who finds herself entangled with a younger woman named Clee.

The novel follows Cheryl’s journey as she navigates her feelings for Clee and grapples with the challenges of adulthood. Throughout the audiobook, listeners are drawn into a world of vivid imagery and compelling characters, as Cheryl’s story unfolds with wit and emotional depth.

The themes explored in The First Bad Man are complex and thought-provoking. From gender stereotypes to the intricacies of human emotion, the novel presents a rich tapestry of issues that are sure to resonate with listeners. The plot is well-constructed, with twists and turns that keep the listener engaged from start to finish.

Overall, the audiobook of The First Bad Man is a captivating listening experience that draws listeners into its world of memorable characters, engaging plot, and powerful themes.

Narration Style

The narration style of “The First Bad Man” audiobook is both captivating and immersive. The audiobook is narrated by Miranda July herself, adding an extra layer of authenticity and emotion to the listening experience. Her precise enunciation and expert inflection bring the characters and storyline to life, drawing listeners into the narrative.

July’s narration style also adds to the overall emotional depth of the audiobook, conveying the subtle nuances of the characters’ feelings and motivations. Her pacing and tone match the mood of the story perfectly, emphasizing the humor or tragedy of each moment effectively.

Overall, the narration style is a major highlight of “The First Bad Man” audiobook, making it a must-listen for fans of Miranda July’s work and those looking for a poignant and engrossing listening experience.

Characters and Development

One of the strengths of “The First Bad Man” audiobook is the well-developed characters that make up the story. The protagonist, Cheryl Glickman, is a complex and multidimensional character who undergoes significant development throughout the audiobook. At the beginning of the story, Cheryl is a lonely and isolated woman who is obsessive about cleanliness and order, but as the story progresses, she becomes more self-aware and learns to let go of her rigid routines.

The supporting characters in the story are equally well-written and contribute to the audiobook’s overall impact. Clee, Cheryl’s eccentric and unpredictable houseguest, provides a stark contrast to Cheryl’s reserved personality and sets the stage for their evolving relationship. Meanwhile, Phillip Bettelheim, Cheryl’s boss and love interest, brings an element of tension and unpredictability to the story.

The meticulously crafted character development in “The First Bad Man” creates a sense of emotional investment that keeps listeners engaged throughout the audiobook. As the characters’ relationships deepen and unfold, the audiobook offers a captivating exploration of human connections and emotions.

Engaging Storyline

“The First Bad Man” audiobook boasts an engaging storyline that keeps the listener hooked from start to finish. The plot is peppered with unexpected twists and turns that add to the overall excitement and anticipation of what’s to come. Miranda July’s clever storytelling combined with the superb narration of the audiobook make for an enthralling experience that leaves a lasting impression.

The audiobook takes listeners on a journey with its protagonist, Cheryl, as she navigates through life’s ups and downs amidst unique circumstances. The engaging storyline delves into themes of love, identity, and personal growth, which will resonate with listeners due to their relatable and human nature. The result is an audiobook that is emotionally impactful and thought-provoking while maintaining a sense of lightheartedness.

Themes Explored

“The First Bad Man” audiobook explores various themes, including personal growth, unconventional relationships, and mental health.

The main character, Cheryl, embarks on a transformative journey of self-discovery, learning to confront her deep-seated emotional issues. Through her experiences, the audiobook tackles the theme of personal growth, emphasizing the importance of facing one’s fears and weaknesses to become a better version of oneself.

In addition, the audiobook depicts unconventional relationships, particularly Cheryl’s relationships with her boss and a young girl she becomes the guardian of. It portrays how a non-traditional family setup can provide a nurturing environment and be just as fulfilling as a traditional one.

Finally, the audiobook tackles the theme of mental health, with Cheryl’s struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and her experiences with therapy. The audiobook portrays the challenges of navigating the mental health system and emphasizes the importance of seeking professional help when necessary.

Writing Style

Miranda July’s writing style in “The First Bad Man” is distinctive, dynamic, and thought-provoking. Her use of vivid, descriptive language combined with a unique voice draws the listener in and keeps them engaged throughout the audiobook. One notable aspect of July’s writing style is her ability to seamlessly blend humor with emotional depth, creating a nuanced and balanced listening experience.

Additionally, July’s unconventional approach to storytelling allows her to explore complex themes and ideas in a fresh and inventive way. Her use of unconventional narrative structures and perspectives challenges the listener’s expectations, making for a captivating listen. Overall, July’s writing style is a significant contributor to the success of “The First Bad Man” as an audiobook, providing a rich and rewarding listening experience.

“July’s writing style draws the listener in and keeps them engaged throughout the audiobook.”

Emotional Depth

The audiobook of “The First Bad Man” explores a wide range of emotions, providing the listener with an immersive experience. Miranda July’s poignant writing style and the skilled narration bring depth and complexity to the characters, making their struggles and triumphs relatable to the audience. As the plot unfolds, listeners become more invested in the characters, feeling their pain, love, and growth. The emotional depth present in this audiobook makes it a truly memorable and moving experience.

“July shapes her characters with an empathy that treats even the strangest or most annoying of them with a rare kind of dignity and admiration, which is itself a form of love,” writes Michael Schaub from NPR in his review of the novel. “The First Bad Man’ is just as fresh, idiosyncratic and offbeat as its predecessors. But it’s also a lot more emotional, a lot more risky and a lot more human.”

The audiobook’s emotional depth is further highlighted in the character’s relationships as they navigate through complex situations and unexpected events, displaying their vulnerability and strength. The listening experience is made even more powerful by the seamless blend of humor and heartbreak throughout the audiobook. Listeners are sure to connect with the characters and their emotional journeys, leaving a lasting impact on their heart and mind.

Wit and Humor

The use of wit and humor in “The First Bad Man” adds a refreshing layer to the novel’s overall tone, making the story more engaging and enjoyable for the listener. Miranda July has a unique style that infuses wit into even the most mundane moments, keeping the listeners entertained throughout the audiobook.

One example of humor present in the audiobook involves Cheryl’s tendency to overanalyze everyday situations, making mountains out of molehills in her head. These moments are relatable and amusing, keeping the listeners chuckling at Cheryl’s ridiculousness.

The comedic elements in “The First Bad Man” help to balance out some of the heavier themes explored in the audiobook, providing a bit of relief and allowing the listeners to better appreciate the emotional depth portrayed. Overall, the use of wit and humor in the audiobook makes “The First Bad Man” a memorable and enjoyable listening experience.

Wit and Humor in Audiobook Review

Pacing and Structure

In an audiobook, pacing and structure are crucial to maintain the listener’s interest and engagement. “The First Bad Man” by Miranda July achieves this balance, enhancing the overall flow of the story. The novel’s pacing is deliberate, allowing readers to fully immerse themselves in the characters’ experiences while maintaining a consistent rhythm throughout. The structure of the story, with its unexpected twists and turns, keeps listeners on their toes and invested in the plot.

The audiobook’s carefully crafted pacing is due in large part to the narrator’s performance. The deliberate and measured delivery helps to establish the tone and mood of each scene, further enhancing the emotional depth of the story. The structure of “The First Bad Man” is structured similarly to a traditional story, with rising conflict and a resolution. But, it also plays with structure in a way that is unique to its style, incorporating elements of magical realism and surrealism.

The combination of well-orchestrated pacing and unique structure make “The First Bad Man” a compelling audiobook that will keep listeners engaged until the end.

Visual Imagery

The use of visual imagery in “The First Bad Man” audiobook adds depth to the narrative and allows listeners to immerse themselves in the story. Miranda July’s vivid descriptions bring the characters and settings to life, creating a sensory experience for the listener.

For example, when describing the protagonist Cheryl’s day-to-day routine, July writes, “I started my day by lying to my yoga class.” This simple statement is accompanied by imagery of “brown and grey patterned carpet” and “large rectangular windows overlooking the street.” The imagery enhances the listener’s understanding of Cheryl’s lifestyle and mindset, painting a clear picture of her surroundings and the people in her life.

The use of visual imagery is particularly effective when evoking the emotions of the characters. When a pivotal event occurs in the story, the imagery becomes more intense and detailed, drawing the listener further into the narrative. For instance, when Cheryl experiences a heartbreaking loss, July writes, “The air in the restaurant was too cold for how hot my face felt. I could feel my eyes puffing up, drawing liquid out of my very bones.” The listener can almost feel Cheryl’s pain and heartache through the detailed description.

The use of visual imagery in “The First Bad Man” is a powerful tool that enhances the listening experience for the audience. It allows them to fully engage with the story on an emotional and sensory level, making it a memorable and impactful audiobook experience.

Critical Reception

Since its release, “The First Bad Man” audiobook has received critical acclaim for its witty and poignant storytelling. The book was a New York Times bestseller and was praised by numerous publications for its unique and surreal plot and its exploration of complex human relationships and emotions.

Publication Review
The New Yorker “Miranda July’s debut novel is a triumph of characterization and voice…”
NPR “Maudlin without being sappy and eccentric without being precious, ‘The First Bad Man’ is a delightful book that invites a second (and third and fourth) read.”
Los Angeles Times “Miranda July proves herself a master of the small and tender details that define our everyday lives in ‘The First Bad Man.'”
Publishers Weekly “July’s wit, whimsy, and razor-sharp observations make this offbeat novel a carefully crafted joy to read.”

Overall, “The First Bad Man” audiobook has been praised for its unique style, vivid characters, and emotional depth that resonate with its listeners. It is a must-listen for fans of Miranda July’s work and those who enjoy thought-provoking and surreal novels that explore the complexities of human relationships.

Listener Feedback

Listeners have been enraptured with “The First Bad Man” audiobook, taking to social media to share their reactions and reviews.

“Miranda July has outdone herself with ‘The First Bad Man’—I was completely sucked in and couldn’t stop listening! The characters are so well-developed, and the emotional depth is breathtaking.”


“I’m not usually a fan of audiobooks, but ‘The First Bad Man’ by Miranda July may have converted me. The narration style was spot on, and I found myself laughing and crying along with the characters.”


“The use of visual imagery in this audiobook is phenomenal. Miranda July’s writing combined with the narrator’s voice creates a fully immersive experience. Highly recommend!”


The overwhelmingly positive listener feedback highlights the impact that “The First Bad Man” has had on those who have experienced it as an audiobook.

listener feedback


After listening to “The First Bad Man” audiobook by Miranda July, it is evident that the novel is a masterpiece of wit and emotional depth. The engaging storyline, well-developed characters, and skilful use of humor and visual imagery make for a captivating listening experience that leaves a lasting impact on its listeners. The writing style is exceptional, and the narration style enhances the overall flow of the audiobook.

Furthermore, the themes explored in the novel are thought-provoking, and the emotional depth portrayed evokes a range of feelings that resonate with the listener. The pacing and structure are well-crafted, contributing to the seamless flow of the audiobook. The critical reception has been overwhelmingly positive, with notable reviews and accolades.

Ultimately, “The First Bad Man” is a must-listen for anyone who appreciates a well-crafted novel that seamlessly combines humor, emotion, and imagination. We highly recommend this audiobook and anticipate that it will continue to receive critical acclaim and positive listener feedback.

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