"I could never predict what was going to ruin me and what was going to rescue me..." Ilyana Meyerovich has never been very far from disaster and loss. A self-described " suicidal, strung-out, psychotic Jew under thirty," Ilyana retreats into her astonishing mind, prays to obscure Catholic saints, and seeks her equilibrium in six white lines laid out on the kitchen table of a squalid Lower East Side apartment. Masochism and nihilism form the twin poles of Ilyana's heroin blurred existence, but this was not always so.
When Susannah Lyons entered Ilyana's life via a "roommate-wanted ad," she quickly became the best thing in it. Having no precedent for genuine friendship, Ilyana can't help but destroy this one, betraying her sweet, naive friend in a way that nearly has fatal consequences for them both.
Ellen Miller's prose crackles with energy, black humor, and blazing insight. Harrowing and cathartic, Like Being Killed explores the limits of self-destruction and the possibilities of redemption.
A vivid, unsparing new novel that "does no less than remind us why we read." --San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
"An impressive accomplishment...graceful, lyrical prose." --Newsday
"A powerful book...intense...profound." --Village Voice
"In this novel, Ellen Miller hurls herself, along with her readers, into a world that resonates with moral complexity. The range of her narrative concerns proves that she can make anything interesting." --Annie Dillard
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Ellen Miller has a masters of fine arts degree from New York University. She was the recipient of the NYU Creative Writing Fellowship for Fiction, along with a residency at the McDowell Colony. She lives in New York City.From Kirkus Reviews:
First-novelist Miller pulls a minimum of punches in her grueling depiction of a young womans heroin-assisted downward spiral. Since her youth in Bensonhurst, Ilyana, the only child of crude, abusive parents, sensed heroin as an inevitable destination. Now a bookish Brown graduate, she lives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the same neighborhood her grandparents had worked hard to escape. Ilyana does her best to resist friendships: such attachments seem inevitably to lead to loss. When her beloved roommate commits suicide, Ilyana replaces her with Susie, a big-boned mosaic maker who deflects Ilyanas reflexive cruelty and wears down her wariness with generosity and bad jokes. Effortlessly domestic, Susie even gets the nihilistic Ilyana to bake a peach pie. Initially, Ilyana is confused by Paul, Susies nice-guy boyfriend, but then she gets at whats behind his lack of focus: that hes using heroin. He manipulates her into keeping it secret from Susie: and when Susie discovers her deception, she immediately moves out. Bereft, and ruminating on her lost friendship, Ilyana intensifies her own use and takes up with a slick pack of clever addictsthe sort who play parlor games predicting how each will diebut even that insubstantial circle evaporates when a gang member overdoses. Ilyana meticulously chronicles the degrading minutiae of the months that follow: her razor-sharp memory and ready grab-bag of scientific and literary references dont dissipate, but, rather, enrich her meditations on paralysis, consciously chosen loneliness, masochistic relationships (including a fling with Susies Paul), and the decay of her bodily functions. Its only when Paul dies of AIDS, and Ilyanas suicidal wishes run rampant, that she opens herself to a redemption of sorts. Though the hopeful transformations feel a bit forced, Ilyanas voice is authentic in unsparingly illuminating the link between self-protection and self-destruction, revealing a tender inner life that persists despite addiction, depression, and descent into squalor. A bleak, bracing debut. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Plume, 1999. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110452279291
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