“Live This Down” by Neil Krolicki

“Japan is way chill about suicide. You lose your job, all your money, can’t feed your kids, and everybody’s cool if you want to sit in your car while it’s running in a closed garage.” – Neil Krolicki, Live This Down

So I received a copy of Burnt Tongues for Christmas. The book is “a collection of transgressive stories selected by a rigorous nomination and vetting process and hand-selected by Chuck Palahniuk” (this a quote from the back cover of the book itself). Skimming the titles of each story within, and the authors who penned each respective story, I recognized no stories, no names. Still, the fact that an author of Chuck Palahniuk’s caliber chose the twenty tales offered in Burnt Tongues made me believe that they would be enjoyable.

The first story, “Live This Down” by Neil Krolicki, didn’t disappoint. Any fan of Chuck Palahniuk’s style would immediately feel comfortable within the sentences that Krolicki composes. The descriptions are graphic, their textures and scents rising from the page as the reader presses on. The subject matter is unsettling: a group of three teenagers who have become outcasts for a variety of reasons, and have decided to kill themselves; and yes, the reasons are given, in the same gut-turning way that the entire story is detailed.

The best part of Krolicki’s writing is the tone that he uses throughout. The story is being told from the perspective of one of the girls who is attempting suicide, and the writing echoes the sarcastic/trendy way that younger generations often talk. The reasoning, the juvenile logic involved as the story progresses, almost lulls the reader into taking on the tone of a stereotypical “valley girl” due to the infusion of “like” (as in, like, totally) and the use of shortened words such as “sec” for second. In my experience, any story that causes me to unconsciously read the sentences in the voices of the characters is written pretty well.

“Live This Down” maintains a consistent voice – and determination – throughout the entire story. Upon finishing this first entry in Burnt Tongues, the reader will surely feel as though they have read an excerpt from a Palahniuk book, which is fitting considering that each story within was not only selected by Palahniuk himself but also birthed within the writer’s workshop featured on Palahniuk’s official fan website.

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“Live This Down” was originally published in Burnt Tongues, which was edited by Chuck Palahniuk.