from the back cover
Joshua Dalton’s provocative debut is a darkly comic collection of fiction and fragments about mental illness, television satire, social media emptiness, workplace trauma, and dating in the age of “why won’t they text me back?” I Hate You, Please Read Me is a bold, sad and LOL funny literary meditation for fans of David Sedaris, Melissa Broder, Rachel Bloom and Samantha Irby.
Josh / “postitbreakup” here. This is my first published book, comprising eleven short stories, hundreds of tweets, and the pilot script for a half-hour dramedy.
Here’s a picture of me holding it and looking kind of goofy:
The title is a reference to I Hate You—Don’t Leave Me, an outdated nonfiction book about borderline personality disorder (BPD), the condition I’m diagnosed with.
The symptoms of BPD include intense fear of abandonment, extreme mood swings, impulsive / self-destructive behaviors, and feelings of emptiness. (But, basically, it’s like having your emotions magnified 100x.)
My goal with this book was to express what having BPD feels like, without being boring or didactic. When I’ve tried writing actual memoir in the past—about my hospitalizations, bad relationships, suicide attempts, whatever—it always feels wrong to me, stilted and dull. I’m much more comfortable, and entertained by, irony and dark humor. That’s a big reason I love Dennis’s writing so much—it’s intensely emotional, but never overly sentimental, and it’s often wickedly funny.
So, that’s what I was going for. Although every story in this book is in some ways about me, none of the events actually happened; and, while all the tweets express real feelings I’ve had, they shouldn’t be taken too literally.
In other words, this is a hopefully-comical book about crippling mental illness, and I hope you enjoy it. <3
(read the full story at Maudlin House)
“In Joshua Dalton’s winning collection of stories and tweets about feeling like a loser, technology is a weapon of self-destruction, love is the highest form of self-hatred, and mental health is an oxymoron. I Hate You, Please Read Me offers an honest and aching voice, steeped in absurdity. It drew from me loud, painful laughter that scared my dog.”
—JENNIFER WORTMAN, author of This. This. This. Is. Love. Love. Love.
“[I Hate You, Please Read Me] is for anyone who has a reasonless life, but finds enjoyment in their reasonless life.”
—NOAH CICERO, author of Las Vegas Bootlegger: Empire of Self-Importance
“Funny, assaulting, and fluid, I Hate You, Please Read Me is a great book.”
—JOE HALSTEAD, author of West Virginia
“It was raining and I was carrying my cat around in a blanket while looking for an Olive Garden—this was the dream I’d had after being up till 4 a.m. reading Joshua Dalton’s book. Coincidence?”
—BRIAN ALAN ELLIS, author of Bad Poet
“Joshua Dalton elevates cyber spiraling to an art form.”
—BROOKS STERRITT, author of The History of America in My Lifetime
“Joshua Dalton has such a brilliant voice—both despondent and hilarious, cruel and empathetic. These stories are filled with a kind of charming despair that rings so deeply, horribly true. This is a book that walks a fine line between pain and humor, and balances there perfectly. This is one that will stick with you.”
—CATHY ULRICH, author of Ghosts of You
excerpt: “The Showrunner” at PANK
excerpt: “Pop Quiz Taped to the Door of Your Apartment” at Philosophical Idiot
review by Charlene Elsby at Entropy
review (in Italian) by Yuri Rossi at Microcosm https://microcosmoblog.wordpress.com/2020/12/02/joshua-dalton-i-hate-you-please-read-me/
Reading on the Talking Book podcast
Stitcher Radio link
“You Stupid Bitch” by Rachel Bloom
“The Joy in Forgetting – The Joy in Acceptance” by Bright Eyes
“Fuck Was I” by Jenny Owen Youngs
“Cradles” by Sub Urban
“Memory Lane” by Elliott Smith
“Borderline” by Brad Sucks
The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Trauma
Michael, eight years old, knew he was going to die.
Attending his grandma’s funeral had been traumatic enough: the weeping relatives, her pale corpse. But then, only three days later, Dad accidentally backed his truck over Michael’s dog.
Michael’s parents tried comforting him as he cradled Chester’s limp, bloody body. They buried Chester in a flower bed.
“It’s the circle of life,” Dad said. “Like when we go hunting.”
“Like The Lion King,” Mom added.
Michael said, “That doesn’t really help.”
His parents told him not to think about it, but mortality latched onto Michael’s brain like a tick, sucking the liveliness from his mind.
He didn’t tell any of his classmates about his growing despair. He didn’t start cutting himself or wearing all black—not that Mom would have let him anyway—but he did start writing little “cries for help.”
At the bottom of a worksheet about the water cycle, he wrote “WLATWEWBHMLA?” (“Why learn about this when earth won’t be here much longer anyway?”) And on the back of a Mother’s Day card: “SYMMAYOTLM, DTMYLF?” (“Since you’re my Mom and you’re obligated to love me, doesn’t that make your love fake?”)
At first Michael wrote only in acronyms; he knew that if anyone realized what was in his brain, he would get locked up in a hospital.
Eventually, Michael stopped caring. He gave up on the acronyms and tried to write about himself, but like everything else in his life, the writing soon felt pointless, so he shot himself in the face with his Dad’s rifle, painting his bedroom walls red.
Michael, slumped over like a headless drunk, looked and felt dead.
For months, his parents kept the bedroom sealed like a shrine. They filled the house with air fresheners and binge-watched TV. Eventually, their therapist—and a recovering housing market—encouraged Michael’s parents to move. That meant finally cleaning his old room.
When they opened the door, pinching their nostrils to block out the stench, they found an exceptionally ugly baby. The baby was lying in a pool of coagulated blood. It
had grown from Michael’s corpse.
Mom and Dad assumed they had snapped, that this house had made them crazy. That the baby wasn’t real.
Just to make sure, they put the baby in an Ikea bag and carried it to a nearby gas station. They asked the cashier if he could see the baby. The cashier nodded and suggested they get a carwash. Mom said, “No, no thank you,” and cried tears of joy.
They named the baby Mikey, then moved cross-country to a small town. They never questioned Mikey’s origins; they saw him as a miracle, a second chance, an opportunity to raise their child right.
Mikey, hardly crying and never getting sick, grew to be a toddler. He seemed healthy and happy. After tucking him in at night, Mom and Dad hugged each other in the doorway of his room, congratulating themselves on parenting so well.
One morning, Mikey used alphabet blocks to spell out “IHMAIWTD” (“I hate myself and I want to die.”)
Though Michael had killed himself at eight years old, Mikey made it only to four.
He used a jump rope to hang himself from the swing set in their backyard. There wasn’t any blood—just Mikey twirling in the wind like a zombie tether ball.
The parents, realizing they had somehow ruined another child, locked themselves in their bedroom.
Then they burned the house down.
In the backyard, beneath the swing set’s ashes, Mikey’s limbs stretched tendril-like into roots.
From his stomach, a tree erupted.
And there were all these tiny babies.
They hung from the tree’s limbs like crying apples—all of them screaming.
where to buy
from the publisher, House of Vlad Press
from Amazon (ebook also available)
actual video footage of my writing process
p.s. Hey. Those amongst you who have been keeping up with this blog and its murdered predecessor for the long term will know Joshua Dalton, albeit perhaps by his DC’s nom de plume Postitbreakup, as he has been a presence on and contributor here for-, gosh, -ever. His first and very long awaited book has just been published, and I’m ultra-happy that he has picked this place as a venue to announce its birth. He’s mega-talented, and I strongly encourage you to investigate said book’s hints and sideshows today and then get your paws or hard drive on the thing itself. Cool. ** Dominik, Howdy, D!!! My favorites? Oh, wow, I’ll have to do a quick scroll through them … hold on … maybe CreamWand, intodicks, YoungforDonation, and uniqueEmoBoyluxury? But I’m like a parent: I love all my children, ha ha. Unless young Bara undressed as a last ditch attempt to offer his killers a bargaining chip? Love as full of wonders as gingertease18’s bed, G. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Well, then he becomes a Daddy, which is a very popular genre these days for reasons that escape me. ** Bill, They were a bit artsy, weren’t they? Maybe you could make a compelling argument to the gum bunny that his leftism is at odds with his physique? Or convince him to take up chess instead of gym workouts, which would also do the trick? I saw ‘Sator’ listed on an illegal site. Hm, maybe I’ll skim it. ** _Black_Acrylic, Indeed, maestro! Very glad you’re feeling better than you did, and hopefully better still. ** Misanthrope, There have been other escorts trying to milk their delusion that they resemble Chalamet before, but never so amusingly as to be selected by picky me. Yury is obsessed with ‘South Park’, and they show multiple old episodes a day on some channel here, so I peek in sometimes, and it is amazing what animation makes okay. ** G, Hi, G, great to see you! I’m good, thanks. I thought it was a good batch of slaves, it’s true. I’m always making those and the slave posts, so I get confused about who is in which post, but, reading over it, yeah, fairly rich and sterling. Lucky us! Hm, maybe I should just steal that post and publish it as a nail-biting psychological thriller novella? How are you, pal? What’s going on? ** Damien Ark, I have heard and do quite like the new Iceage track, yes. Zac and I have vague, long term thoughts/ dreams/ what-have-you about collaborating with Elias on a film or music video or something. We talked with him about the idea ages ago, and he was into it. Just have to come up with something. Oh, man, take very good care of yourself, sir. That’s, like, almost an order! ** Steve Erickson, I don’t know ‘Lonely’, I don’t think, although if I have heard it, it would have been in a context where it was just a piece of an unattributed muzak playlist. ** Alexandrine Ogundimu, Hi! Well, it’s good that the post occasioned a revelation, right? Fiction fodder maybe? God knows those posts have wound up inspiring things in my stuff for better or provably worse. ** John Newton, Hi, welcome! They were kind of losing it, weren’t they? Thank you very much about my work. How would I email you? Excuse me if the answer is obvious and I’m blanking out. ** Brian O’Connell, Bonjour and -soir and everything in between, Brian! Right, the escorts were the blog’s inadvertent Valentine to you and to all and sundry. I should have worked that angle somehow. Thanks, yeah, I’ve got cool projects galore going on. As usual, it’s a matter of money, ugh, that’s needed to get them all the way done. I would say ‘La Haine’ is not worth checking out, no. If it hadn’t been an assignment, I would turned it off pretty early on. The city! Dreading schoolwork’s return is extremely understandable to me, even if the alternative is doing nothing. My Monday … it was okay. Started to get together a package of stuff about the new film for our producers to send out to potential funding sources as it’s due today. Watched the first part of this 4 1/2 hour doc about 80s horror/slasher films that’s just talking heads and clips, but I like 80s horror/slashers, so that passed the time. Worked on some writing. Blah blah. Tuesday looks like it will be yesterday continued, but you never know, do you? Yours? Are you schoolworking again? If so, anything especially interesting (or extremely not)? If not schoolworking, … ? ** Okay. Please gobble up the bits and pieces of Joshua Dalton’s spanking new book today. Thank you. See you tomorrow.