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Jen Beagin holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, and has published stories in Juked and Faultline, among other journals and literary magazines. In 2017, she was awarded a prestigious Whiting Award for her debut novel Pretend I'm Dead. She lives in New York.
Twenty-three-year-old Mona is a messed-up, one-of-a-kind character who gives out needles to drug addicts and makes ends meet by cleaning. After falling for an older addict she names Mr Disgusting, who proceeds to give her the runaround and break her heart, Mona heads to New Mexico where she sets up her Bees Knees Housekeeping business (“Clean Like You’ve Never Seen, Honey!”) while navigating the rocky fall-out from her abusive childhood. Here she meets a bunch of fellow oddballs, among them do-gooding New Agers “Yoko and Yoko” and her psychic client, Betty, who lives in a “casino pink” trailer. Mono is a meticulous cleaner with a talent for uncovering her clients’ dirty secrets. She’s also given to outlandish fantasies and speculation, an irrepressible force who tries to lives by her own rules, such as “never watching a period drama unless she was on her period”, as she quips. At once a vivid portrait of outcasts’ lives and messy attempts to lay ghosts to rest, this is an outrageous, funny, moving debut. While Mona’s voice is often hilarious, her story is underpinned by deep-rooted damage, but she’s never one to wallow in self-pity. Like Mona, the writing speaks on its own terms -it’s sparky, irreverent, switchblade-sharp and punch-packingly original.