Homesick for Another World

Ottessa Moshfegh. Penguin Press, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-56288-4
In 14 expertly crafted stories, Moshfegh (Eileen) examines characters and situations too weird to be real and too real to be fiction, with themes of alienation, ennui, displacement, sexual neuroses, and addiction. A voyeuristic old man steels his courage to approach the beautiful, aloof woman working at the counter of the local arcade (“Mr. Wu”); an aspiring actor hooked on motivational clichés spins out of control in a breakup saga (“The Weirdos”); a high school English teacher has an on-again/off-again relationship with the drug-dealing “zombies at the bus depot” (“Slumming”); a grieving husband uncovers evidence of his dead wife’s infidelity and explores his own sexuality (“The Beach Boy”); an underachieving suitor embarks on a desperate quest for a cheap ottoman that holds the key to his quixotic romantic endeavors (“Dancing in the Moonlight”). There’s not a throw-away story in the collection. Each resonates with seemingly effortless, ineffable prose, rarely striking an inauthentic note—particularly memorable are the endings, which often land to devastating effect. The author’s acute insight focuses obsessively, uncomfortably, humorously on excreta, effluvia, and human foible, drilling to the core of her characters’ existential dilemmas. Moshfegh is a force. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 09/05/2016
Release date: 01/17/2017
Ebook - 978-0-399-56289-1
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