Full disclosure, I did not finish. That is, Homesick for Another World is a collection of short stories, and I finished several of the stories, and I decided I got the picture of what was on offer here and it wasn’t for me. “An Honest Woman” was the last one I finished, so I made it through about half of them.
Ottessa Moshfegh is an absolutely incredible observer and her use of language and specificity is just … each individual sentence is like a little zap of a cattle prod to the exact neurons that will create a full and exact picture for you. The reason I did not finish, however, is that she’s “taking pictures” of the bleak, the miserable, the hopeless, the awful.
You could tell just by looking — grape-soda stains on their kids’ T-shirts, cheap dye jobs, bad teeth — the people of Alna were poor. Some of them liked to huddle on turnouts or thumb rides up and down Route 4, sunburned and tattooed, but I never thought to stop and pick one up.
Most of these stories have distinctive protagonists, usually lower middle class but otherwise pretty distinct from each other. They describe their surroundings and why they’re miserable for a while, they often try to have sex with someone they don’t actually like very much and usually fail in a bleak way, and then the story ends with a lasting image of them being stuck and kind of a not-great person.
a bit quite unfair to Moshfegh but I can’t not think of …
story idea: a man visits a prostitute. a week later, she dies and it's very hard for the man to deal with
— AUTHOR In Your MFA (@GuyInYourMFA) December 8, 2017
If you’re looking for some truly outstanding writing, as in, language, observation, mechanics, this is actually great. It’s the subject matter and mood that is just profoundly not for me, and hence, I’m done.
The good news, as my last several reviews have been profoundly and progressively crankier and crankier, is that I am currently reading a book that I actually like. Whew! I was worried for a minute that the reading pleasure center of my brain had fitzed into smoky pink goo.