The Crush Letter No 166: Lisa Ellex Reviews the “Hot Menopausal” Novel of the Summer

. 6 min read

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Hello Crush,

Summer is officially in full swing. I am still finalizing my plans for July Fourth, but most of you probably already have yours set. Some of you even no doubt beat the rush for ground chuck. (That is the secret to Paul Newman’s famous Newmanburger, we found out from Jason Diamond last week.)

I am still soaking up time with family and on an abbreviated work schedule, but I wanted to share with you Lisa Ellex’s take on All Fours, the much talked about book by Miranda July. The phrase “the first great perimenopausal novel” often comes up in any conversation on the novel (which, I should add, is not intended as a diminutive but I can’t help but wonder about it.) All Fours is being so widely talked about that it has ushered in the phrase “hot menopausal summer.” Even the Wall Street Journal took notice.

Thank you to Lisa Ellex, PrimeCrush’s trusted contributing editor and writer, for sharing her take on all the fuss. I have been in a rabbit hole of angst lately over worries about my aging parents and other family dynamics and have not—for reasons that will become clear once you read Lisa’s review—felt grounded enough to take on the chaos of what I’ll call “the All Fours journey.” I’m so grateful to Lisa for diving in and faithfully sharing the experience.

If you’ve already read All Fours, we’re dying to know your thoughts. Please use the link below to share (anonymously, or not!):

Sex Toy Reviews. On a somewhat related topic, we have some intrepid CRUSH Readers currently testing toys for our ongoing PrimeCrush Sex Toy Report. One of the toys that we are testing—specifically for couples’ use—is the We Vibe Sync O. If you’ve tried it, want to let us know your thoughts? We’d love to add your review to our upcoming report.

In This Letter. +Book Review: All Fours by Miranda July. Reviewed by Lisa Ellex No, this is not a fever dream but just some of the elements of Miranda July’s second novel, All Fours. +Social Media I Loved This Week

Book Review: All Fours by Miranda July. Reviewed by Lisa Ellex

All Fours - July, Miranda
Book linked here

“To quench that thirst she drives, soon finding a motel room where the reader becomes a peeping Tom, perversely observing sacred moments through a keyhole.

A well-planned cross-country drive, the trauma of childbirth, the torture of secret desire, the struggle of monogamy, the ebb and flow of creativity, an alternative lifestyle, art, life, suicide, a breathless baby, deception, dance, FBI, PTSD, IG, intrigue, longing, an Asian sleuth, passion, purpose, friendship, lesbians, a neglected dog, the threshold of menopause, role-playing, rejection, shame, interior design, tonka bean soap, infidelity, kundalini, fame, a husband‘s girlfriend, a giant spoon, work, separate bedrooms, seedy motel rooms, a reservation at The Carlyle, a father lost in the “death field”, a room of one’s own, celebrity, and so much more.

No, this is not a fever dream but just some of the elements of writer/filmmaker/performance artist Miranda July’s second novel, All Fours, a brave and often painful hero’s journey to find their true self in midlife.  When the nameless protagonist  – a successful artist, modern wife, devoted mother (refusing to impose gender, she refers to her 7-year-old son as “they,” “them,” or “their”), and self-described “minor celebrity”  – leaves her home and family to embark on a solo cross-country drive, her excursion turns into a modern day Alice in Wonderland (with a lot more kink). Like a lone caterpillar, she is changing, literally designing her own cocoon in which to begin her wild transformation.

A half century after Erica Jong’s 1973 ground-breaking novel, Fear of Flying, (described as a “timeless tale of self-discovery, liberation, and womanhood”) in which the protagonist sets out on a journey for the “zipless fuck,” Miranda July’s protagonist boldly debunks all notions of female sexuality and pursues her own psycho-sexual journey taking the reader along for the ride. From the very first page when a neighbor notices a tele-photographer peering into the protagonist's front window, we become the person behind that phallic lens, capturing all the personal and candid moments that would forever live in the photo album of one’s mind (like the weekly sex she initiates with her husband while fantasizing various scenarios from which he is absent). Of the relationship with him she offers: “Harris and I are more formal, like two diplomats who aren’t sure if the other one has poisoned our drink. Forever thirsty, but forever wanting the other, one to take the first sip.” 

To quench that thirst she drives, soon finding a motel room where the reader becomes a peeping Tom, perversely observing sacred moments through a keyhole.  Though she shares these moments with fantastically fleshed-out characters like Audra, Helen, Claire, and Arkanda, it is her chance meeting with Davey, a smitten fan, that changes her course and upends her. And so, unraveled and 3,000 miles away from where her family believes her to be, she waits for stolen moments with a young, married fan she cannot have, at least, not in a way the reader imagines.

As Jong’s main character fears “flying,” July’s main character fears falling; off a cliff (notice the book’s cover art), off a balcony (the fate of her grandmother and aunt), off a hormonal chart (as her body betrays her with perimenopause), off the planet. Creative types will tell you it’s the process of creating that keeps them alive and ensures purpose and immortality. To not create is to die.  But here, the protagonist is so tormented by her longing that she is unable to create and, intentionally or not, she creates an overall chaos in her life.  If there is any truth to the Chaos Theory, will order be far behind?

In her work as a filmmaker, Miranda July masterfully creates stark and uncomfortable realities for her characters and she successfully transfers that talent here, delivering her nameless literary hero with the purity of a raw-nerve newborn, courageously crawling toward their truth.

Social Media I Loved This Week





Happy July Fourth!

Dish Stanley XO,

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