All Fours

Riverhead. May 2024. 336p. ISBN 9780593190265. $29. F
This second novel by filmmaker July, following The First Bad Man, centers on a unnamed 45-year-old woman, a semi-famous artist married to a man with whom she has one child. At the outset, this everywoman has planned a solo road trip to NYC from her home in Los Angeles. However, she only gets as far as Monrovia, CA—about 20 miles away from home—before stopping. She proceeds to rent a room in a roadside motel and then sets about not only renovating the room but also reinventing herself. Her localized adventure features a growing attachment to Davey, a younger man whose wife also happens to be the decorator of the protagonist’s motel room. The protagonist’s relentless self-awareness pushes her to question the conventionality of marriage, to explore her queerness, lust, and sexuality, and to examine whether the expected paths laid out for middle-aged women are the only paths.
VERDICT While the protagonist’s self-obsessions and erotic escapades won’t be to everyone’s liking, July’s novel is a quirky, funny, even tender feminist tale that defies expectations about the lives women can lead.
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