What a sick, twisted, perverted little book!
I will not rate this book. The writing is excellent. Since this is a collection of short stories, I cannot reveal much. But I will say this: rarely do I feel so affected by unpleasant situations in fiction.
Here’s the thing though. I nearly DNF’d this one – I put the book down so many times, because it just went from gross to worse. Only a faintly disgusted curiosity kept me going. Like I said, the writing is good. The stories though… You know when you first watched a movie like, say, (off the top of my head) Trainspotting (I haven’t read the book – only watched the movie adaptation) and you weren’t sure whether to keep watching or just stop, but you kept watching anyway? Reading this book was like that.
I have a habit of reading at mealtimes. If you’re like me, then let me warn you, reading this book during lunch may cause you to throw up.
Ottessa Moshfegh’s voice is powerful and her stories are well-rounded and articulate. But you do begin to wonder if a lot of it was just done for shock value. The stories reminded me of Carver’s works minus the annoying open endings. Moshfegh’s stories reach somewhat satisfying conclusions, thank goodness. You don’t feel “this is incomplete”. You just hold your hair back and hurl.
I’m conflicted about yet another thing: I want to recommend this book to people, but I also feel I shouldn’t because really, should I choose powerful writing over how disturbed this might make people feel?
If you decide to read it, let me know what you thought about it!
I also have a copy of Moshfegh’s Eileen, which has been shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker. I won’t lie – after reading her short stories, I don’t know if I have the courage to face a full-length novel by her.
PS: I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley/Random House UK