Suffering from writer's block, Miranda July found diversion from her stalled screenplay in an unlikely place—the PennySaver. Just for fun, she began interviewing people who had placed ads for items like baby Bengal leopards and a used hair dryer. The captivatingly original result: It Chooses You, a sort of documentary memoir in which July, an actor and director as well as a writer, affectionately celebrates the upside of eccentricity. The book includes excerpts from ten interviews, accompanied by photographer Brigitte Sire's pictures of July's subjects, their homes, and the items they're trying to sell. (A man advertising a leather jacket for $10 lives in an apartment that smells of an "overly sweet note combined with something burning on a hotplate 30 years ago"; one woman keeps photo albums of a dead couple she didn't know; another man resides with a mannequin of a soap opera actress.) Finally, a lucky meeting with an 81-year-old selling Christmas cards inadvertently points July back to her movie and makes her realize that sometimes you have to look away from your problems to let their solutions find you.
— Gale Walden
Printed from Oprah.com on Friday, December 13, 2013