“Jen Michalski’s second novel is an intense emotional commitment, but a worthwhile one.” – Ploughshares

“Jen is an astonishingly sensitive writer.” – HTML Giant

“Jen Michalski excels in subtlety that is made possible by her nuanced understanding of voice.” – The Rumpus

“Jen is a writerly heavyweight.” – Nate Brown, American Short Fiction

“We’re lucky to have Michalski before the rest of the world discovers her. But they will.” – Baltimore City Paper

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Before Waking

1. It never rains.
2. It’s never cold.
3. You always have to pee.
4. You live for years in a world, a town, a house intimate with a person whom you have never known in waking life.
5. Someone always has a knife.
6. You always have sex.
7. Sometimes it’s with a man, sometimes a woman.
8. The dead are living.
9. The living are dead.
10. Someone laughs, head arched, menacing.
11. You are always younger.
12. You run in slow motion. You run through water, molasses. You wear cement shoes. Your toes have roots.
13. Your tooth is loose.
14. The person with the knife stabs you.
15. Your wife leaves you.
16. The dog, long dead, wants a pet, a walk.
17. She breaks free and is hit by a car.
18. You are naked.
19. Indescribably beautiful music plays.
20. You discover you’ve forgotten to write your term paper.
21. Or register for fall classes.
22. You are flying.
23. Your brother dies.
24. An ice cream truck sells a flavor you’ve never tasted.
25. You fall through the floor.
26. Your heart fills with such joy and peace, indescribable.
27. You wonder whether you have died.
28. You discover the story of your next novel.
29. It has no plot.
30. You forget all of this.