Like Being Killed – Ellen Miller


To the next person who reads this book:

Like Being Killed explores the life and thoughts of a junky.

This novel disturbs in a way that its content is sometimes repulsive – and therefore uncomfortable – to read, but in the kind of repulsive way that doesn’t allow you to stop reading.

I read this after someone mentioned it in connection with another title I enjoyed: The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. The two novels were nothing alike – though perhaps they share a similar attention to detail and description.

Both worlds seem real in some way; both are vividly painted.

In some ways, I found this story superficial. At its core, it seemed flawed. The relationship between the two women seemed at first to be lacking some depth. But this fact is almost redeemed by what the relationship develops into – the story and its end both provided a satisfying depth I didn’t think Like Being Killed had.

But from the outset, it was interesting, almost engrossing – the detail was, as I’ve already mentioned, disturbing. Shit seems to be a major theme throughout – which seemed also to parallel the themes of life and death, and how protagonist Ilyana Meyerovitch sees herself and junkies as, in society.

One of the novels key messages is that the life we live is a choice we make.

On the surface, this novel provides some insight into how low life can get living with a heroin addiction.

What I enjoyed about this novel was its structure – the time frame is not chronological, and jumps between a kind of before and after.

It describes a unique drug culture, too, which adds to the believability of the world the novel operates in.

Sometimes I found protagonist Ilyana to be dislikeable – too involved in her own problems to empathise with those around her – and this was one of her flaws, as a person, and a part of her character arc.

Ilyana’s Jewish heritage is described with wonderful detail, and so are her junky friends.

Read this if you want to journey into a world where the characters and places are described with a kind of detail that makes them multidimensional, and real.

Like Being Killed is filled with allusions – and provokes some thought, too.

★ ★ ★



The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson

classics, Pschological horror


To the next person who reads this book:

We are introduced, first, to the house. ‘No live organism can continue for long to exist soley under conditions of absolute reality,’ it begins.

Hill house, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stnoe of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

Welcome to Hill House: the first novel I have read that left me feeling genuinely scared; it was a creeping sense of fear – the kind that slowly  settles over you like a shadow casting nearer without your noticing. When you do, the fear is gripping and hard to shake.

This fear lingered. Even when I wasn’t reading The Haunting of Hill House, I was thinking about it.

The juxtaposition between the first sunny morning of protagonist Eleanour’s arrival to the house and the dark, mysterious inner rooms of the house is incredibly effective.

Three people, Eleanour, Theodora and Luke come to the house upon invitation from Dr. John Montague, Doctor of Philosophy. But what he wants  to study in the house is far from what his doctorate might suggest.

None of the three guests are aware of the reasons why they have been invited to the house, but each have their own reasons for accepting the invitation.

What I like most about this novel was whether or not Hill House was haunted by the dead, or the living – of which does the title refer?

Eleanour is an unreliable narrator, it is hard to trust what of her narration has been warped by her own strange version of reality.

She has spent the majority of her young life friendless and estranged – being introduced into the social setting of Hill House, Eleanour comes accross as slightly neorotic and strange.

The story tracks the slow unravelling of Eleanour in the hosue – but whether it is of a supernatural nature or not is uncertain.