An electrifying first collection from one of the most exciting short story writers of our time.
Ottessa Moshfegh's debut novel Eileen was one of the literary events of 2015. Garlanded with critical acclaim, it was named a book of the year by The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle, nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction. But as many critics noted, Moshfegh is particularly held in awe for her short stories. Homesick for Another World is the rare case where an author's short story collection is if anything more anticipated than her novel.
And for good reason. There's something eerily unsettling about Ottessa Moshfegh's stories, something almost dangerous, while also being delightful, and even laugh-out-loud funny. Her characters are all unsteady on their feet in one way or another; they all yearn for connection and betterment, though each in very different ways, but they are often tripped up by their own baser impulses and existential insecurities. Homesick for Another World is a master class in the varieties of self-deception across the gamut of individuals representing the human condition. But part of the unique quality of her voice, the echt Moshfeghian experience, is the way the grotesque and the outrageous are infused with tenderness and compassion. Moshfegh is our Flannery O'Connor, and Homesick for Another World is her Everything That Rises Must Converge or A Good Man is Hard to Find. The flesh is weak; the timber is crooked; people are cruel to each other, and stupid, and hurtful. But beauty comes from strange sources. And the dark energy surging through these stories is powerfully invigorating. We're in the hands of an author with a big mind, a big heart, blazing chops, and a political acuity that is needle-sharp. The needle hits the vein before we even feel the prick.
A Better Place
A Complete Short Story from
Homesick For Another World
I come from some other place. It's not like a real place on Earth or something I could point to on a map, if I even had a map of this other place, which I don't. There's no map because the place isn't a place like something to be near or in or at. It's not somewhere or anywhere, but it's not nowhere either. There is no where about it. I don't know what it is. But it certainly isn't this place, here on Earth, with all you silly people. I wish I knew what it was, not because I think it would be great to tell you about it; I just miss it so much. If I knew what it was, maybe I could make something like it here on Earth. Waldemar says it's impossible. The only way to get there is to go.
"Waldemar," I say to my brother. "How do we get back to the place, to the thing, whatever?"
"Oh, you have to die. Or you have to kill the right person."
That's his answer now. For a long ...
The book comprises fourteen tales, generally dark, each unique in its expression of mute angst; sexual longings, fulfilled or repressed; human contacts tentatively made and frustratingly frayed. Yet each offers what this new writer's growing readership has come to expect: sudden splashes of outré humor in the midst of squalid, fetid realities.
(Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott).
Full Review (522 words).
In the story "No Place for Good People," one of the short stories in Homesick for Another World by Otessa Moshfegh, a lonely widower takes a job overseeing the daily needs of three men with "moderate developmental disabilities." Despite his personal problems, the protagonist is able to see these men as "reasonable enough people." This attitude reflects a relatively recent, open-minded, respectful view of those who used to be clinically labeled feeble-minded, morons, or idiots.
Before the middle of the 20th century, most Americans had little or no contact with the disabled unless through family. In general, the greatest level of care offered by society was to the blind, and though such care was often paternalistic, there was at least a ...
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