Ottessa Moshfegh

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Surprised there isn't already a thread for her. I got her story collection Homesick for Another World when it came out in February and was totally floored. There's a story in the middle - I can't remember the title - about an older wealthy Manhattan couple that made me gasp, felt like a kick in the stomach. I read her 2015 novel Eileen a couple weeks ago and it was just as fantastic. She's my favorite contemporary American writer - pitch black sense of humor, clean & tight prose, and a pessimism/cynicism that's really refreshing in a sea of Pollyanna fiction. I got her 2014 novella McGlue last week and I can't wait to read it.

flappy bird, Friday, 7 July 2017 18:15 (one year ago) Permalink

i really liked eileen, it was so grody

na (NA), Friday, 7 July 2017 20:37 (one year ago) Permalink

one month passes...

fu flappy i wanted to start this thread http://rs22.pbsrc.com/albums/b315/tempestwithin/Icons%20and%20Avatars/2022379-1.gif~c200

McGlue is one of the most genuinely /grisly/ things i've ever read. in a good way; easily the best writing about violence in american lit since Cormac McCarthy. also the best description of a hangover. and when the narrator [SPOILER] sticks his finger into his skull(!) *full body shudder* it's dark as fuck but also, as mcglue's memory fleshes it out, his relationship with Johnson is revealed to be really tender and sweet. and just line by line, hilarious and wicked sharp writing (i love what rivka galchen--who nominated mcglue for a fancy prize that afaict launched her career--is quoted as saying on the back cover blurb of mcglue about "the mouthfeel of language"; sometimes you can read his slur straight off the page) one random example i remember is mcglue describing himself as "peddling my legs around Salem like a wind-up doll looking for a glass teat to suck" cracked me up

i'm about half way through Eileen as the moment and it's really good but the plot is just about to kick off and it took a while to set up. all i can say for now is: she is so good at exploring the interior life of her characters, and the scene where [SPOILER] Eileen describes pooping after eating laxatives was hysterical. Eileen is kinda a Daria-ish misanthrope stuck in a hyperbolically drab and pathetic life

i've got the short story collection on order at the campus bookshop

flopson, Tuesday, 22 August 2017 06:01 (one year ago) Permalink

I bought the stories collection some months back - it really resonated with me but I need to re-read it in a different mood at some point to see how I feel. Bleak as fuck.

The Harsh Tutelage of Michael McDonald (Raymond Cummings), Thursday, 24 August 2017 23:20 (one year ago) Permalink

"Slumming" (is that the title? my copy is packed away now) in particular just rattled me.

The Harsh Tutelage of Michael McDonald (Raymond Cummings), Thursday, 24 August 2017 23:22 (one year ago) Permalink

three months pass...

new short story in the new yorker: Pictures of the Dead

flappy bird, Thursday, 30 November 2017 06:14 (one year ago) Permalink

just got the stories collections, so goddamn good~

johnny crunch, Saturday, 9 December 2017 19:52 (one year ago) Permalink

same! its cracking me up

flopson, Saturday, 9 December 2017 20:49 (one year ago) Permalink

Wish i liked her more: eileen just seemed like highsmith or jackson done not as well

Her book coming next yr looks promising, though.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Sunday, 10 December 2017 09:13 (one year ago) Permalink

eileen is the weakest of the three but still great imo. the stories are blowing my mind

she gives a bracing interview, really loved this one:

https://bombmagazine.org/articles/ottessa-moshfegh/

this, on the origin of mcglue, is illuminating:

McGlue is set in 1851. It was inspired by a brief article in a New England periodical from that year. I have lost the article by now, but the moment I read it, McGlue’s character emerged in full form. It was one long run-on sentence, as I recall, and read something like: “McGLUE. Salem. Mr. McGlue the sailor has been acquitted on the count of murder which he was found guilty of committing in the port of Zanzibar by reason of his being out of his mind since having hit his head when he fell from a train several months prior and because he was in a blacked out state of drunkenness at the time he stabbed a man to death.” There was the whole book right there: the character, the plot, the deformed language. I felt like I’d struck gold. I’d grown up in New England and could relate to McGlue’s self-destructive rebellion in the face of all that Puritanical cold. Once I started working on the book, I could hear him rambling around in my brain, impatient and wild. I spent my writing-energy trying to squeeze that chaos down into prose. Most of the book came out of me that way—painfully, as if possessed. It was important that I not think too hard about what I was writing down.

flopson, Monday, 11 December 2017 01:20 (one year ago) Permalink

The novel I’m writing now is all about Whoopi Goldberg and Ambien.

johnny crunch, Monday, 11 December 2017 13:41 (one year ago) Permalink

yes

flappy bird, Monday, 11 December 2017 17:56 (one year ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

i'm about half way through Eileen as the moment and it's really good but the plot is just about to kick off and it took a while to set up.

i'm 75 pages in & getting kinda impatient :(

just sayin, Monday, 8 January 2018 05:46 (eleven months ago) Permalink

It does not really improve, just gets sillier

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Monday, 8 January 2018 09:59 (eleven months ago) Permalink

What a coincidence: she wrote the introduction to a new selected edition of Shirley Jackson stories I checked out of the library.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 8 January 2018 13:07 (eleven months ago) Permalink

oh man Eileen is so good. keep going! and yea i preordered that Shirley Jackson collection just for Ottessa's intro, still have to actually read the book beyond her intro

flappy bird, Monday, 8 January 2018 18:02 (eleven months ago) Permalink

so she's writing a novel about oprah and ambien? love it

flappy bird, Monday, 8 January 2018 18:02 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Shirley Jackson is sooooooooooooooo much better than Moshfegh

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Monday, 8 January 2018 23:58 (eleven months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

new novel!

My Year of Rest and Relaxation - July 10, 2018

A shocking, hilarious and strangely tender novel about a young woman’s experiment in narcotic hibernation, aided and abetted by one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature. Our narrator has many of the advantages of life, on the surface. Young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, she lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like everything else, by her inheritance. But there is a vacuum at the heart of things, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents in college, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her alleged best friend. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

This story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs, designed to heal us from our alienation from this world, shows us how reasonable, even necessary, that alienation sometimes is. Blackly funny, both merciless and compassionate – dangling its legs over the ledge of 9/11 – this novel is a showcase for the gifts of one of America’s major young writers working at the height of her powers.

https://www.penguin.co.uk/content/dam/catalogue/pim/editions/173/9781787330412/cover.jpg.rendition.460.707.png

flappy bird, Sunday, 18 February 2018 03:30 (nine months ago) Permalink

holy shit that sounds/looks good

johnny crunch, Sunday, 18 February 2018 03:36 (nine months ago) Permalink

i started reading mcglue, gnarly

johnny crunch, Sunday, 18 February 2018 03:36 (nine months ago) Permalink

stoked

flopson, Sunday, 18 February 2018 03:37 (nine months ago) Permalink

xp me too! halfway thru

flappy bird, Sunday, 18 February 2018 03:37 (nine months ago) Permalink

EILEEN disappointed me a few weeks ago. I'm still curious about this one.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 18 February 2018 15:05 (nine months ago) Permalink

Really enjoying the beginning of EILEEN but can imagine that it might go awry

Prometheus Freed's Rock and Roll Pâté (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 18 February 2018 15:25 (nine months ago) Permalink

I just finished Eileen & was very satisfied w it ftr

scrüt (wins), Sunday, 18 February 2018 15:27 (nine months ago) Permalink

Interesting to read that ppl were waiting for the plot to get going, I absolutely wasn't - just didn't seem like that sort of story, even with the "I should tell you again about the gun" stuff. When something did happen it was more consequential than I was expecting tbh - don't want to get too spoilery so will leave it there.

scrüt (wins), Sunday, 18 February 2018 15:30 (nine months ago) Permalink

I thought Christian Bale was laughably awful in American Psycho but later I read an interview where he explained he was doing a Tom Cruise impression the entire time, and there's definitely a similar thing going on in Eileen where the author is deliberately writing in a way that might seem simply laughably bad if you're not in on the joke.

Philip Nunez, Sunday, 18 February 2018 15:40 (nine months ago) Permalink

Interesting to read that ppl were waiting for the plot to get going, I absolutely wasn't - just didn't seem like that sort of story, even with the "I should tell you again about the gun" stuff. When something did happen it was more consequential than I was expecting tbh - don't want to get too spoilery so will leave it there.

― scrüt (wins),

My problem was too much plot! It read like an attenuated short story, extended beyond its scope.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 18 February 2018 15:50 (nine months ago) Permalink

at least the cover's good

||||||||, Sunday, 18 February 2018 16:01 (nine months ago) Permalink

I get that tbf, I was thinking similar things (but with a more positive slant, like man I really wanna read her short stories cause that seems like the form she'd excel in) - but I don't really mind it. It's a pretty short novel so it feels like a short story where you just spend a little bit longer in the world. I also felt that there was a point to the structure in that Day 2 already feels like it should be the day of her disappearance, Eileen's situation feels unbearable and untenable, so the slow progress through several days of cringe-comedy setpieces was effective for me.

scrüt (wins), Sunday, 18 February 2018 16:06 (nine months ago) Permalink

Xp

scrüt (wins), Sunday, 18 February 2018 16:06 (nine months ago) Permalink

I should go back to eileen, I think, though I heard real mixed reviews. I got to the end of the first chapter, thought 'you should have started the story here' and have not gone back to it since

||||||||, Sunday, 18 February 2018 16:19 (nine months ago) Permalink

i don't think Eileen is as flawed as others do, but imo whatever problems it has are with mechanics or plot (if you read the interviews i posted upthread, Moshfegh repeatedly admits she 'sold out' to her og literary audience by making it so conventionally plotted, while i felt the plot dragged) while the writing line-by-line or paragraph-by-paragraph, is incredibly high quality. <tmi/slight spoiler> the scene where eileen describes her bowel movements was one of the funniest things i've read, but also an example of Perfect Writing imo

flopson, Monday, 19 February 2018 00:19 (nine months ago) Permalink

Totally mystified by all the Eileen criticisms itt. McGlue was the one that felt like an overextended short story. flopson otm about that particular scene, though iirc constipation is a recurring theme throughout the book, and I just remember reading it and seeing that house so vividly and feeling how cluttered and trapped she was. Never thought once that it was overextended or too conventional, it was a very weird, dark, and satisfying novel. I do prefer Homesick for Another World though.

flappy bird, Monday, 19 February 2018 00:46 (nine months ago) Permalink

four months pass...

https://longreads.com/2018/07/05/a-person-alone-leaning-out-with-ottessa-moshfegh/

new moshfegh alert! drudge sirens!

The narrator of Ottessa Moshfegh’s new novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, a 24-year-old New Yorker, wants to shut the world out — by sedating herself into a near-constant slumber made possible by a cornucopia of prescription drugs. In various states of semi-consciousness, she begins “Sleepwalking, sleeptalking, sleep-online-chatting, sleepeating… sleepshopping on the computer and sleepordered Chinese delivery. I’d sleepsmoked. I’d sleeptexted and sleeptelephoned.” Her daily life revolves around sleeping as much as possible, and when she’s not sleeping, she’s pretty much obsessed with strategizing how to knock herself out for even longer the next time, constantly counting out her supply of pills.

na (NA), Thursday, 5 July 2018 15:29 (five months ago) Permalink

oh there's already an update on that up there. sorry.

na (NA), Thursday, 5 July 2018 15:33 (five months ago) Permalink

yea im excited for this

johnny crunch, Thursday, 5 July 2018 15:41 (five months ago) Permalink

preordered way back in February

Looks like this is the Ambien and Oprah novel

flappy bird, Thursday, 5 July 2018 16:04 (five months ago) Permalink

I think the thing that I have in common with this character is that I am acutely aware of how much I do not like my own mind. When I’m not distracted by my imagination or by something external, time passing feels like I’m just waiting for the time to pass until I die. It’s kind of like vigilant awareness of mortality and mindfulness.

otm

flopson, Thursday, 5 July 2018 16:54 (five months ago) Permalink

Moshfegh once told Vice, which published some of her early work, “My writing lets people scrape up against their own depravity, but at the same time it’s very refined . . . it’s like seeing Kate Moss take a shit.”

johnny crunch, Friday, 6 July 2018 19:12 (five months ago) Permalink

lmao. love her

flopson, Friday, 6 July 2018 19:27 (five months ago) Permalink

Yeah, will be buying this next week.

The Harsh Tutelage of Michael McDonald (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 7 July 2018 18:21 (five months ago) Permalink

When I’m not distracted by my imagination or by something external, time passing feels like I’m just waiting for the time to pass until I die.

This is an ego problem, not a mind problem.

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 7 July 2018 18:25 (five months ago) Permalink

Get one mustard seed, why dontcha

Pwn Goal Picnic (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 7 July 2018 18:57 (five months ago) Permalink

new book is great so far, pretty early on tho

flappy bird, Wednesday, 11 July 2018 15:59 (five months ago) Permalink

yea im maybe 60 pgs in

i mean this in a value neutral way but it reads like fight club sorta idk
getting away from toxic femininity and social climbing by sleeping
rather than getting away from toxic consumerism by fighting

johnny crunch, Wednesday, 11 July 2018 20:42 (five months ago) Permalink

Dwight Garner says that she writes with "so much misanthropic aplomb, however, that she is always a deep pleasure to read."

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 11 July 2018 20:58 (five months ago) Permalink

otm

johnny crunch, Wednesday, 11 July 2018 22:51 (five months ago) Permalink

Also 60 pages in, waiting for the bomb to split.

flappy bird, Friday, 13 July 2018 04:42 (five months ago) Permalink

I can’t quite get with Dwight Garner, sorry.

Pwn Goal Picnic (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 14 July 2018 02:03 (five months ago) Permalink

I mean in general, not what he said about OM.

Pwn Goal Picnic (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 14 July 2018 10:28 (five months ago) Permalink

Finished the book just now. Really disappointed.

~~~~SPOILERS~~~~

using 9/11 for suspense / as a central dramatic device is such a cliché and so worn out and I'm stunned that a writer as talented as OM would utilize it.

flappy bird, Sunday, 15 July 2018 23:35 (five months ago) Permalink

Having a similar reaction to this as I had to The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Need to sit with it.

flappy bird, Monday, 16 July 2018 17:02 (four months ago) Permalink

Ottessa Moshfegh really, really loves herself, doesn't she?

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 19 July 2018 04:44 (four months ago) Permalink

haven’t read the nyorker profile yet but a friend recounted to me the story of how she met her partner (came over to interview her, and stayed inside her house for 17 days) i thought that was very romantic

flopson, Thursday, 19 July 2018 05:38 (four months ago) Permalink

Ottessa Moshfegh really, really loves herself, doesn't she?

― Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison)

don't you?

flappy bird, Thursday, 19 July 2018 05:52 (four months ago) Permalink

Should be part of yr Buddha nature.

Isora Clubland (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 19 July 2018 10:15 (four months ago) Permalink

I loathe myself, and I'm not that keen on her, either.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 19 July 2018 10:21 (four months ago) Permalink

i've only read her short story collection which is at times brilliant and at times truly horrendous, which is how i feel about her generally and her persona in interviews. the husband seems like such a massive bellend.

i've started to read the interviews for a laugh, generally. this one is fairly good: https://longreads.com/2018/07/05/a-person-alone-leaning-out-with-ottessa-moshfegh/

The ’90s were really, really different from the decades that preceded. At least, I felt. A lot of cultural shifts happened. You could get away with being weirder. Now things are so policed. You can’t even really express an opinion without getting haters on social media. But in the ’90s we had Nirvana

not sure i could bother with a novel.

FernandoHierro, Thursday, 19 July 2018 10:22 (four months ago) Permalink

lol

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 19 July 2018 10:35 (four months ago) Permalink

seems like a smart decision

flopson, Thursday, 19 July 2018 11:56 (four months ago) Permalink

The NYer profile completely turned me off of ever reading her. My loss, perhaps.

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Thursday, 19 July 2018 12:27 (four months ago) Permalink

Maybe she meant it this way: "But in the '90s we had Nirvana *smirk* "

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 19 July 2018 12:39 (four months ago) Permalink

The NYer profile completely turned me off of ever reading her. My loss, perhaps.

― mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Thursday, July 19, 2018 8:27 AM (four hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

yep

flappy bird, Thursday, 19 July 2018 17:26 (four months ago) Permalink

Who should we be reading besides Moshfegh? It seems like a problem with all media but we're living in a time where the gonzo-ness of reality is outstripping literature's ability to articulate anything compelling or insightful about it.

Philip Nunez, Thursday, 19 July 2018 17:41 (four months ago) Permalink

She's far and away the best young fiction writer in America. Struggling to think of anyone else that's even close.

flappy bird, Thursday, 19 July 2018 17:45 (four months ago) Permalink

At the time I read moshfegh's story collection, I was also reading a novella about someone skating in abandoned swimming pools while dealing with her brother's drug addiction, and another novella about a corridista who sings himself into a ganglord's castle, and none of them struck me as being better or worse than the other (to the point I don't remember who the authors are). What is it about moshfegh you would say is more deserving of attention?

Philip Nunez, Thursday, 19 July 2018 18:02 (four months ago) Permalink

I relate to her misanthropy, her cynicism, her confidence, and her wounded optimism. On a technical level she's a fantastic writer & in the story collection demonstrated a pretty stunning range of voices & managed to consistently surprise me. And she's hilarious.

flappy bird, Thursday, 19 July 2018 18:13 (four months ago) Permalink

imo if a profile of a writer turns you off the writer the blame likely lies more on the writer of the profile of the writer herself. i love her interviews ymmv

flopson, Thursday, 19 July 2018 19:32 (four months ago) Permalink

If the appeal of a writer is largely persona-driven, then it seems like a good proxy for whether you'd enjoy reading her stuff, though.

Philip Nunez, Thursday, 19 July 2018 20:25 (four months ago) Permalink

It’s not at all persona driven for me. I knew nothing about her before I read Homesick for Another World - the qualities I listed above I found in her writing.

flappy bird, Thursday, 19 July 2018 22:03 (four months ago) Permalink

Right, but the qualities you initially point to describe a representation of an author, a voice, a sensibility, which are things I don't particularly like about, say, David Eggers' writing, but I'm enjoying Monk of Mokha right now.

Philip Nunez, Thursday, 19 July 2018 22:30 (four months ago) Permalink

Okay... what is the question again

flappy bird, Friday, 20 July 2018 01:36 (four months ago) Permalink

Which question? It seems like you answered that the distinguishing appeal is the specific personality and attitude that comes through her writing. I couldn't really speak to the technical level of writing as it didn't seem miles and away more accomplished than two randomly selected pieces of fiction I happened to have picked up at the time. Is there something specific you'd say she does on a technical level that other writers don't do as well?

Philip Nunez, Friday, 20 July 2018 03:34 (four months ago) Permalink

haven’t read the new one yet but the stories, mcglue, and eileen are all v different and i don’t get a consistent persona from reading her stuff. she’s a bit of an ‘edgelord’ i guess but in a way i find cool

flopson, Friday, 20 July 2018 03:42 (four months ago) Permalink

the appeal of her writing was v immediate to me but ive had mixed results in turning friends onto her, if u don’t like the stories it’s nbd, like there’s no big secret to it; flappy’s description gets at her appeal pretty well. i would say maybe try mcglue just bc it’s an awesome piece of writing, if you still wanna give it a try

flopson, Friday, 20 July 2018 04:03 (four months ago) Permalink

I read the stories and eileen and they did seem of a piece, a kind of similar detachment. what should I look for in mcglue from a writing POV? (I feel like if i notice what a writer is doing, the writer's doing a bad job, so i'm not going to automatically take notice of really good writing)

Philip Nunez, Friday, 20 July 2018 04:15 (four months ago) Permalink

this thread makes me remember that i thought mcglue sounded like something i'd enjoy, despite my reservations. may well give it a try.

FernandoHierro, Friday, 20 July 2018 13:03 (four months ago) Permalink

anybody else finish the book yet? thoughts?

flappy bird, Monday, 23 July 2018 17:35 (four months ago) Permalink

She has a talent for depicting squalor.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 23 July 2018 18:02 (four months ago) Permalink

I started it and I'm not sure how I feel yet, but it does make for excellent bedtime reading.

change display name (Jordan), Monday, 23 July 2018 18:10 (four months ago) Permalink

i finished & liked the book...i think maybe less than i liked eileen? i dont have any issue w the end, fully understood & knew 9/11 was gonna be implicated here

johnny crunch, Tuesday, 24 July 2018 01:54 (four months ago) Permalink

the end as a set of snapshots, step out into a new world, felt poignant to me w/e. old person on a bench how did they get there.
self-observation so much different than eileen but also the same. a person observing themselves 200+ pages but stillcompelling?like alfred says, squalor, lotta pages of it
nothing compares to the short stories for me, havent read mcglue
dont ever read interviews of anyone ever obv why u torturing urselves

alomar lines, Tuesday, 24 July 2018 05:44 (four months ago) Permalink

i finished & liked the book...i think maybe less than i liked eileen? i dont have any issue w the end, fully understood & knew 9/11 was gonna be implicated here

― johnny crunch, Monday, July 23, 2018 9:54 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

m/l my thoughts, though reiterating that certain characters work in the world trade center pretty much robs the rest of the book of suspense. i suppose the ending could be read as a final indictment of the vacuity and banal selfishness of the narrator.

flappy bird, Tuesday, 24 July 2018 06:15 (four months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Great interview with OM on the Bret Easton Ellis Podcast today. Behind a paywall but worth it: https://www.patreon.com/posts/b-e-e-podcast-10-21822014

flappy bird, Wednesday, 3 October 2018 18:06 (two months ago) Permalink

the novel she's working on now 1) stars a Chinese cross dresser 2) the first chapter is narrated by a ghost

flappy bird, Wednesday, 3 October 2018 18:49 (two months ago) Permalink

reading this while depressed and in a fog of over-sleeping + barely leaving my apartment has been quite the trip

flopson, Sunday, 7 October 2018 20:35 (two months ago) Permalink

Omg, I had the same experience. Sent me in to a total tailspin. I gave it to my wife and she got depressed, too. Not recommended (or highly recommended) for delicate readers feeling anxious or hopeless about current events.

Yelploaf, Sunday, 7 October 2018 20:43 (two months ago) Permalink

the psychiatrist is just the best though

flappy bird, Sunday, 7 October 2018 20:48 (two months ago) Permalink

Yeah, Dr. Tuttle the best drawn character imo.

Yelploaf, Sunday, 7 October 2018 20:51 (two months ago) Permalink

despite the descriptions of her having red hair I always picture her as Fran Lebowitz

flappy bird, Sunday, 7 October 2018 20:53 (two months ago) Permalink


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