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.

★ ★ ★