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Vacuum in the Dark

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  1,237 ratings  ·  244 reviews
From the Whiting Award-winning author of Pretend I’m Dead and one of the most exhilarating new voices in fiction, a new hilarious, edgy, and brilliant one-of-a-kind novel about a cleaning lady named Mona and her struggles to move forward in life.

Mona is twenty-six and cleans houses for a living in Taos, New Mexico. She moved there mostly because of a bad boyfriend—a junkie
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 26th 2019 by Scribner
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  • Vacuum in the Dark by Jen Beagin
    Vacuum in the Dark
    Release date: Jan 28, 2020
    Enter for a chance to win the most picker-upper paperback you'll read this winter! Vacuum in the Dark is a spunky, one-of-a-kind novel about a ...more

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    Giveaway dates: Jan 25 - Feb 05, 2020

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    Shauna Hargrove i didn't (kind of on accident) and i was just as happy reading pretend i'm dead after as a little backstory.…morei didn't (kind of on accident) and i was just as happy reading pretend i'm dead after as a little backstory. (less)

    Community Reviews

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    Average rating 3.53  · 
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     ·  1,237 ratings  ·  244 reviews

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    Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
    Beagin’s debut which I read back when it appeared on Netgalley was quite something. Her darkly humorous take on the life of a genuinely singular cleaning lady was a strangely pleasurable read. And one I’d never imagine getting a sequel. And yet…here we are. And the cleaning lady is still at it, vacuuming in the dark, which is not only an occasionally apt job description, but a nice metaphor for her life, no less messed up, confusing or confused since the last time, despite tucking a few more ...more
    Dec 03, 2018 marked it as dnf
    I’m going to have to put this one down for now. It’s just not the type of book I know would resonate with me.
    May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Vacuum In The Dark by Jen Beagin certainly has an eye opening book. Mona is 26 and cleans people's houses for a living. Mona certainly knows about her clients and never afraid to say anything at all to her clients or suggest something. What I liked about this cleaning lady Mona is that she's very funny. Also by Jen Beagin is Pretend I'm Dead. I do hope we will hear more of Mona, as I think that the author Jen Beagin is sitting on gold mine with this fresh and different unforgettable funny, Mona, ...more
    Lolly K Dandeneau
    Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    via my blog:
    'While her parents were busy ruining their marriage, she’d spent three or four days a week with her paternal grandfather, Woody Boyle, a mild-mannered man, an avid reader and functional alcoholic. But he’d taught her all of life’s essentials: how to spit like a man, take a good photograph, drive stick, make a stiff drink, swim butterfly, French-braid, and, perhaps most importantly, how to play dumb.'

    Mona’s voice is always entertaining for me as
    Donna Davis
    I received this book free and early, thanks to Net Galley and Scribner. It will be available to the public February 26, 2019.

    The cover grabbed my attention right away since I like sassy working class fiction. I haven’t read the author’s first book, but this one doesn’t rely on back story, so that is no problem.

    The promotional blurb says this is laugh-out-loud funny, and it did make me laugh out loud right away. The protagonist Mona is a housecleaner, and as she is wiping down the various
    Kathryn in FL
    This is a whimsical drama that is connected by a central character, Mona, a house cleaner in Taos, New Mexico. Each chapter is a vignette of an experience Mona has had with one of her clients interspersed with remembrances of lovers past and sometimes those in the present. The last chapter focuses on her retrospection of her childhood with her mother, Darlene, whom she calls Clare (because she likes the name better) and Darlene's husband. The stories are clever though rife with sexual commentary ...more
    2.5/5 stars

    When I first got this book I had no idea that it was connected to a previous book (Pretend I'm Dead). I thought about reading the first book. But then decided to just read this book and see if it could stand on its own. It definitely does. Although the main character Mona's story does apparently begin in the first book.

    This book is divided into four parts. It's basically four different stories that are connected and all narrated by Mona.

    This is a very adult book. The humor is at times
    Dec 06, 2018 added it
    Shelves: for-work
    A little obsessed with this and her. I went from laughing out loud to feeling intensely physically uncomfortable and back again. Insanely dark and yet not depressing, in fact kind of delightful. So fricken weird and wonderful
    Jaclyn Crupi
    Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    The sequel we needed. Mona is back and is as weird and wonderful as ever. This was complete brilliance and cements Beagin as a major voice. You must read Pretend I’m Dead first I think so you meet Mona a couple of years before this novel takes place. .......................................
    “‘Trigger finger’ is the medical term,” he said. “It just means the tendon is irritated. Are you hard on your hands?”
    “I treat my fingers like little barbarians,” she said.
    “So, you hold things with a firm grip
    Martha Steele
    Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    A quirky character that totally has my heart, Mona is one strange bird. The fact that she talks to Terry Gross from Fresh Air in her head nearly constantly just makes her more adorable. This is a follow-up to the novel "Pretend I'm Dead". This book is not for everyone, it's filled with shocking stuff but it's presented in the guise of dark humor (which I love). Thanks Jen, you did it again!
    Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
    The author has a knack for making you cringe and laugh in the same sentence.
    Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
    An every day life account of a cleaning woman; her clients, her family, her lovers.

    There is humor in her story telling of her personal accounts and clients.

    I learned a couple of cleaning tips from the book, like how to naturally remove a rust stain.

    Everyone has a life story and this is Mona’s. It is a different spin, though not anything outstanding to remember or to model by.
    It just is, a story. Two stars.
    Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
    Metaphorically, the title works on two levels, as Mona is often cleaning in dark/dim areas and she herself seems to be moving through life in a shaded and often light-bereft manner. She even lives in a shade-side apartment, and isn’t particularly good at examining her own life, particularly moments that are emotional. Not knowing that Mona was introduced in an earlier book, and finding this story bringing her character forward to carry the novel through the four parts of the story, I will say ...more
    Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
    4.5 certainly. 4 chapters, that made up this mad hatter of a novel. Vacuum in the dark and Mona are the most deliciously weird things that have entered my life lately. There was a book before this one, and I'm hoping there's going to be a book after this one because where we left off was one tick shy of a grave in the desert. Jen Beagin strings together words into sentences that my brain would never even think belonged on the same page, but they're beautiful in their entirety. Taken one sentence ...more
    Ann (Inky)
    I have been dying to read this since I finished Pretend I'm Dead in early May, and it truly met and surpassed my expectations once it was finally my turn to check it out of the library.

    I would certainly read another book starring Mona. Since I am 28 and I believe 27-28 to be the most transformative years for a young woman, I would LOVE another novel full of Mona's continued misadventures as she reaches her Saturn Return.

    These books have inspired me to feel ready begin to writing my own story,
    Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Beagin has a singular voice, and like her stellar first book, Pretend I'm Dead, this is a fun, quirky, sui generis romp. If I didn't rate it quite as highly, it's because, as with many (most?) sequels, this suffers just a tiny bit from sophomore slump ... cleaning lady Mona was such a surprising, unique character the first time around, that encountering her again doesn't have quite the same impact. It's more like running into an old friend, and though you're grateful for the encounter, you're ...more
    Janet Newport
    Jul 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
    Thank you NetGalley and Scribner for this arc.

    "Constantly surprising, laugh out loud funny... ...dealing with some of the most universal in America today..."

    I must be inhabiting a different America. I requested this book based on the publisher's blurb. The first book of this series had received somewhat mixed reviews (I've not read it), but seemed to have settled around 3.5 stars. So I thought I'd try this one.....

    3-D rating from me. Desperate....Depressing... Dismal. And I
    Louis Pigeon-Owen
    Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Satanic Turkish cats, a blind therapist, two pill-popping Hungarian artists, one rundown motel named Little Sweden and a whole lot of daddy issues feature in this beautiful and acerbic return to form by Jen Beagin. Your favourite sardonic anti-heroine Mona is back to navigate some of the most reprehensible and uncomfortable situations in the history of literature with wit, snark and just a touch of poetry. Think Peep Show as penned by Sylvia Plath.
    Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
    One of my personal shortcomings as a reader is the way I often want to read books with unique/original perspectives, then get turned off if I can’t relate. That is the best way to describe my experience with Vacuum in the Dark. The way Mona and supporting characters in her life process their personal histories felt rather abstract to me - often, behavior and dialogue in this book seemed like something one would do consciously in a book or an art piece, rather than an approximation of a real ...more
    Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
    A Funny, Quirky Read

    This book is hilarious!! It is the sequel to Pretend I'm Dead, which I have not read yet but I feel like it isn't required to enjoy this book. I am however intrigued to read it after finishing this one.
    Mona's character is funny and quirky. I laughed out loud at her narration. This book is darkly funny, and explicit, and a bit odd. It will not be to everyone taste but I enjoyed it.

    For more of my book content check out
    Brandi Johnson
    Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
    I could have read about Mona for another 300 pages. Maybe even 500. I found her so fascinating and immediately wanted to be her friend. Kudos to the author for bringing every single character to life; I could picture them exactly, and that isn’t an easy feat to achieve. (Trigger warnings: childhood trauma and sexual assault.)
    Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
    I really loved Pretend I'm Dead and will admit I was surprised to see a sequel, but it's equally as dark and disturbingly humorous as the first. Hopefully there will be a third to round things off.
    Mona is one of the most damaged characters that I've come across and liked, she is so raw and honest.
    Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: march-2019, 2019
    I love this woman’s writing and I will read her until the end of time.
    Melanie Worth
    Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
    This book made me feel like I was floating the whole time I was reading it. Fantastic! Despite the solid four stars I'm not sure who I'd recommend it to though!
    Bonnye Reed
    Apr 10, 2019 is currently reading it
    pub date Feb 26, 2019
    Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Earlier this year, upon reading and subsequently reviewing Jen Beagin’s 2015 debut, Pretend I’m Dead, I humbly wrote in said review:

    ‘Either way Pretend I’m Dead will have you saying “well, I guess my life could be worse”.
    Not to mention looking forward to whatever wreck Jen Beagin chooses to detail next.’

    Now before you start to ponder why I’d be so arrogant as to quote myself, first ask yourself why you’re reading my reviews to begin with (just kidding, sorta). Real talk, though: Pretend I’m
    May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
    I must admit, I was more than a little curious about this novel from the cover art, a dark brown feather cleaning brush, splayed upward, on a pink fleshy background, with just the slightest curvature of thighs suggested by the handle. It’s a perfect image to describe Mona, the 20-something narrator of “Vacuum in the Dark,” who tends to the domestic chores of well-to-do Taos homeowners. Mona is anything but your average cleaning lady: quirky, curious, complex, and very much sexually aware. She ...more
    Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
    Honesty first: I didn't get this book. I didn't understand it and felt the whole time, that I was missing something huge, symbolic or overall important. That said, I don't want to rate it too terribly just because I was missing something or it wasn't my normal type of book. It was well written, rather interesting and I finished it, so that says something. I just don't want to discourage people who might enjoy this type of story, when it is not really my cup of tea.

    This reminds me of my reaction
    Lory Sakay
    Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
    This was so bizarre and disturbing that it was completely engrossing. Mona, Mona, one wanted to grab her and shake her, and then equally hug and comfort her. Although, the events this protagonist encountered were just downright weird her character was very well developed and one couldn't help developing a bond with her, invested in her life, forming empathy for her warped psyche. Beagin addresses some very serious, challenging issues in a bit of a whimsical way as we follow Mona's ...more
    Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Mona is still cleaning houses in Taos, New Mexico, where she moved after her boyfriend Mr. Disgusting died.
    She has some new clients and a new boyfriend, Dark. He is married to a blind woman who is also a client.
    Mona is struggling with her mental health and getting her life together.
    As she cleans, she talks to her friend Terry, of NPR, a voice in her head.
    When she breaks it off with Dark, she decides to take a trip home to Los Angeles. Her mom and longtime boyfriend are getting married and they
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    Jen Beagin holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, and is a recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award in fiction. She is the author of Pretend I'm Dead and Vacuum in the Dark. A former cleaning lady, she lives in Hudson, New York.
    “Strange, she thought, how affected you are by malice when you're a kid, how a mean work or look can unravel you, how devastating cruelty feels when you're too young to protect yourself. But eventually, after all those defense mechanisms are firmly in place, it's the so-called positive shit - mercy, not malice - that brings you to tears.” 2 likes
    “Strange, she thought, how affected you are by malice when you’re a kid, how a mean word or look can unravel you, how devastating cruelty feels when you’re too young to protect yourself. But eventually, after all those defense mechanisms are firmly in place, it’s the so-called positive shit—mercy, not malice—that brings you to tears.” 0 likes
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