I Wish I Was Like You (an excerpt)

My parents wasted their youth paying off a third mortgage on a ranch-style house with three bedrooms, two baths, and a dining area lined in fake paneling. We lived on a street where all the neighbors could see through one another’s living room window, and nothing ever happened. People went to work and to school. People celebrated holidays with barbecues and fireworks. People met at motels and bars and pretended to be mysterious. A father of four was arrested for indecent exposure at the park. A woman drove drunk through her neighbor’s roses and somebody killed her cat the next day. This was life in the suburbs.

Nothing terrifying or crazy ever happened. Nobody ever murdered anybody, at least nobody who got caught. Families knew one another, or pretended to, from a safe and civil distance. Nobody discussed anything more controversial than the local football scores. A natural death on our block justified the entire population wandering outdoors in pajamas to drink coffee and watch the paramedics strap down and ferry away one of our own. Afterward, minus information, we speculated.

“Hal was out of shape. I offered to take him to the gym as my guest. Said he didn’t have time. Look at him now…”

“He was under too much pressure at work. All that overtime! Stress is a killer. I told him to slow down and spend more time with the family but he didn’t listen. Look at him now…”

“His marriage was coming apart. I urged him to see a lawyer and get free of the whole mess. Look at him now…”

Regardless of the slant our gossip took, one thing was consistent; we blamed the dead guy. People always do. It’s a way of siding with life, with energy and bouncy tits, a way of stepping back from death, mocking anyone who seems tired, weak, depressed, or just too goddamn eager to lie down. It’s a way of pretending to be on friendly terms with good fortune.

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I Wish I Was Like You is available from JournalStone/Trepidatio. If you purchase the paperback directly from the publisher’s site, you get a bonus ebook edition in the format of your choice (ePub, PDF or mobi for Kindle) to download right away.

This Is Horror 2017 Novel of the Year

2017 Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Superior Achievement in a Novel

Charles Dexter Award for Favorite Novel of 2017 from Strange Aeons Magazine

Horror. Ghost story. Noir. 1990 Seattle. Title from Nirvana’s “All Apologies.” Don’t let Greta see you. She likes to hurt people, for fun.

“This biting, sly gem of a novel shouldn’t be missed.” – Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“Gritty and insightful, funny and despairing by turns. Refreshing to read some balls-deep outsider fiction again.” – Adam Nevill, author of The Ritual

“Miskowski has produced an exemplary novel, one that deals intelligently with themes of creativity and self-absorption, one that leaves the reader with much to think about and is every bit as brilliant as the work [protagonist] Greta Garver dreams of producing but can’t deliver. I loved it.” – Peter Tennant, Black Static

“Her prose is at times delicate and poetic, yet can turn as sharp and deadly as the stroke of a knife through flesh.” – Michelle Garza, This Is Horror

“A poison-pen love letter to 1990s Seattle, Miskowski’s black humour, precise observations, and well-drawn characters make this novel an absolute pleasure to read.” – Yves Tourigny

“A portrait of Seattle in the heyday of grunge, a trawl through the lives of the ordinary and broken, a meditation on ambition, failure, and gender, of community and friendship and their limits. A portrait of failing to come of age in those gloomy, millennial times in the early 90s… Miskowski sketches a vision of afterlife that is linked to the ideas of the classic ghost story but somehow has the revelatory shock of a wholly new conception.” – Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, author of A Volume of Sleep

“Miskowski never succumbs to the temptation to reduce her protagonist to a cartoon, a pure villain; instead, she grounds Greta’s transformation in the shortcomings of her character, in the frustrations of her dreams and daily life. In so doing, she maintains Greta’s humanity all the way to the book’s last, wonderfully dark line.” – John Langan, Locus Magazine

“This is a terrific, beautiful, mean book. It’s been a long time since I was so hooked by a narrator, and I suspect Greta will haunt my thoughts for a long time. Can’t wait to dig into this author’s other books.” – Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters

“This novel shows once again why Miskowski is the best around. There’s a range to her work that other writers can only dream of, and this novel with its dark humor, weird noir atmosphere and fully realized characters is wonderful.” – Christopher Slatsky, author of The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature

 

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