I read parts of this book and felt more seen than I have in my entire life, in that way some authors have of writing something that you didn't know about yourself but immediately realize is true. I immediately wanted to unread those parts; I kind of wanted Jen Beagin to unwrite them. That's a compliment: this book was uncomfortable in the best way. Recommended By Ashleigh B., Powells.com
Pretend I'm Dead is a crackling spitfire of a novel! Oh, Mona! Mr Disgusting! Yoko and Yoko! A delectable morsel, weird and laugh-out-loud funny, I didn't want this to end! I want more of Mona, her housecleaning adventures, and all she meets along the way! Recommended By Adrienne C., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Miranda July meets Mary Karr in this brilliant debut novel from Jen Beagin, Whiting Award winner and “one of the freshest voices I've read in years — funny, wise, whip-smart and compassionate” (Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins), about a cleaning lady on a quest for self-acceptance after her relationship with a lovable junkie goes awry.
Jen Beagin’s quirky, moving, “frank and unflinching” (Josh Ferris) debut novel introduces an unforgettable character, Mona — almost 24, emotionally adrift, and cleaning houses to get by. Handing out clean needles to drug addicts, she falls for a recipient she calls Mr. Disgusting, who proceeds to break her heart in unimaginable ways.
In search of healing, Mona decamps to Taos, New Mexico, for a fresh start, where she finds a community of seekers and castoffs, all of whom have one or two things to teach her — the pajama-wearing, blissed-out New Agers, the slightly creepy client with peculiar tastes in controlled substances, the psychic who might really be psychic. But always lurking just beneath the surface are her memories of growing up in a chaotic, destructive family from which she’s trying to disentangle herself, and the larger legacy of the past she left behind.
The story of Mona’s journey to find her place in this working-class American world is at once hilarious and wonderfully strange, true to life and boldly human, and introduces a stunningly one-of-a-kind new voice in American fiction.
“How can you resist a love story in which the object of desire is named Mr. Disgusting? Like Denis Johnson, Jen Beagin is able to find humanity and wonder (and yes, love) in some of the most forlorn and hopeless corners of our world.” Tom Perrotta, author of Mrs. Fletcher and The Leftovers
"Pretend I'm Dead by Jen Beagin is like one of those old-fashioned classics by Charles Bukowski or John Fante or, more recently, Denis Johnson, a shambling, lyrical dispatch from the dive bars and the flop houses where the downtrodden, divested of hope, livelihood, good health, and any number of other markers of respectability, nevertheless retain full possession of their hearts and minds, their integrity, their souls, too, perhaps — and no one nearly as triumphantly as Mona Boyle, Beagin's heartbreaking hero and alter ego. Rare is the encounter with such a frank and unflinching voice reporting from life on the edge, and rarer still the humor and compassion that Beagin manages to locate in some of the country's, and the psyche's, darkest corners. This book invaded my dreams, took over my conversation, and otherwise seduced me totally." Joshua Ferris, author of Then We Came to the End
"One of the most anticipated literary debuts of the year...Pretend I’m Dead traces a cleaning woman’s journey to self-acceptance in alternately warm, sharp, and deeply wise fashion." Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
Jen Beagin holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, and is a recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award in fiction. Pretend I’m Dead is her first novel. A former cleaning lady, she lives in Hudson, New York.
Jen Beagin on PowellsBooks.Blog
I write in bed, which I felt weird about for years until I learned that both Nabokov and Capote wrote in bed. Now I’m okay with it. What I feel weird about lately is that I do most of my writing on my phone, which wouldn’t be weird at all if I was a teenager. (I’m 47.) Perhaps because of my age and the fact that I didn’t grow up texting, I type with one finger...