I'M RUINING MY OWN LIFE
Six essays about mental illness and mental thrillness. Growing up indoctrinated and female and learning how to tie the room together, assuming one side of the room is Jesus and the other is blowjobs.
I am a little in love with Gwen. Reading her work cuts something in me and it feels good. There is a palpable vulnerability that draws me in. There is a deceptive gentleness in the book, there language is so lovely and sweet without saccharine or sap. What's exquisite about Gwen's work is that it sweetness has a sharp back bite. Getting deeper in, the essays and book are naked and honest. This is the type of work that makes me want to know the person, I want to know the girl Gwen was and the woman she is now beyond the page. I am in love with Gwen because she hurt me as a reader and made me laugh while never pandering to my expectations of what the narrative should be and I love that."
- Shannon Barber, author of Self-Care Like a Boss
"Gwen Werner's I'm Ruining My Own Life ruined my life. Just kidding, it did the opposite and bettered it. At times startling in it's frankness and other times heart touching in it's poignance, Werner's prose is intelligent, propulsive, and full of dark savvy humor. Her voice is effective and warm, and watching her explore religion, anxiety, intimacy, sex and disappointment is most comforting. Read this books and feel less alone immediately. It's like a glass of wine in word form. I chugged it in one sitting."
- Chloe Caldwell, author of Women and I'll Tell You in Person
KILL US ON THE WAY HOME
Six short stories of where and how life moves ever forward, with or without the person living it. Birds and amputees and hot dog vendors go in circles. The cars all still run but can't seem to leave town. Beatty pulls gum from under the park bench and you chew for what seems like forever before finally swallowing, the thing stuck between your ribs like your mother always warned you it would.
"Gwen Beatty is like a Midwestern Flannery O'Connor. By turns hilarious, horrifying, and moving, the stories in Kill Us on the Way Home force the reader to confront a Midwest that is dark, dying, and inescapable. In sharp, witty prose, Beatty takes us deep into the psyches of characters who are lost, mean, and imperfect, but above all real. As they aimlessly drive country roads, shoot seagulls out of boredom, fake pregnancies, and fall in love at hot dog stands, they live their lives with an askew sense of conviction. They may not know where to go or how to get there, but that doesn't mean they don't try, and Beatty treats even her most unforgivable characters with dignity and sympathy. Reading this book feels crucial: Beatty unearths the stories of people who would evaporate, unheard, without her."
-Megan Martin, author of Nevers