By bringing us so deeply into her characters' heads, Moshfegh transmutes disgust into love, or, if not love exactly, the next best thing to love'”understanding.
Why I love it
Though I try to fight it, at heart I’m a New England prude. So by all rights Ottessa Moshfegh’s writing should make me deeply uncomfortable: In her story collectionÂ Homesick for Another World, Moshfegh writes of seedy loners and proud creeps, giving us brilliant insight into the inner lives of some seriously unpleasant people.
And uncomfortable it did make me, but 1) honestly, that’s a good thing, and 2) the other feeling I experienced alongside discomfort was pure freaking pleasure. It’s the pleasure you feel when you discover a genuinely special voice, when just a few sentences into a story you know you’re reading a writer who could never be mistaken for anyone else'”a hilarious writer, a terrifying writer, a writer who’s keenly aware that the everyday is also the setting for the outrageous, the surreal. That’s Ottessa Moshfegh.
Even as the characters inÂ _Homesick for Another World_Â repelled me, they drew me in. Though they are perverted, delusional, even sometimes hateful'”you name it'”it was not as a car-crash rubbernecker that I avidly read about them. Rather, by bringing us so deeply into her character’s heads, unfiltered and honest, yet in prose that is cool and clean, Moshfegh transmutes disgust into love, or, if not love exactly, the next best thing to love in fiction'”understanding. Allowing these characters the gift of being seen clearly.
After all, when Moshfegh writes of the weird, disgusting, pointless things we do with our bodies when we’re alone, the horrifying thoughts we have in passing, of all the times we were bad or lazy instead of good and brave, she’s writing about essential aspects of humanity. It’s us. We’re not all heroes always; we all have moments where we’re not fit to be seen or heard.
And accordingly, the moments of grace, compassion, and connection inÂ _Homesick for Another World_Â feel all the more precious. In life we can only treasure what is good and try to make more of it. But, also, all we have is what we have. One of those things is this incredible collection of stories. Here you go.