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Sleep through it

Anne Diebel: Ottessa Moshfegh, 13 September 2018

My Year of Rest and Relaxation 
by Ottessa Moshfegh.
Cape, 288 pp., £12.99, July 2018, 978 1 78733 041 2
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Homesick for Another World 
by Ottessa Moshfegh.
Cape, 277 pp., £9.99, January 2018, 978 1 78470 150 5
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... Ottessa Moshfegh​ likes to write about ugliness. Many of her characters are physically unattractive, and fixated on their defects. The narrator of Eileen, Moshfegh’s second novel, published in 2016, is fond of staring in the mirror, examining her ‘jagged’ figure with its ‘unwieldy’ flesh, her face marked with ‘soft, rumbling acne scars’, her ‘horselike’ mouth ...

Surely, Shirley

J. Robert Lennon: Ottessa Moshfegh, 21 January 2021

Death in Her Hands 
by Ottessa Moshfegh.
Cape, 259 pp., £14.99, August 2020, 978 1 78733 220 1
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... About a third​ of the way into Ottessa Moshfegh’s Death in Her Hands, the protagonist, Vesta Gul, walks into a library, fires up a web browser and clicks on a page entitled TOP TIPS FOR MYSTERY WRITERS. The rules she scrolls past – ‘create a three-dimensional world’, offer ‘a clear and convincing motive’, ‘try to surprise the reader at the end, but always play fair’ – could be a list of everything that was deliberately missing from Moshfegh’s previous books, which are populated by flat, chronically miserable characters who repeat the same self-defeating and often viscerally revolting actions over and over again, and feature endings that seem determined to mock and disappoint ...

Under Her Buttons

Joanna Biggs: Ottessa Moshfegh, 31 March 2016

by Ottessa Moshfegh.
Cape, 260 pp., £16.99, March 2016, 978 0 224 10255 1
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... listen to you still less if you refuse to be looked at.) It’s a peculiar sort of trap – and in Ottessa Moshfegh’s fiction there are better or worse entrapments, but there is no not being trapped. The divorcée in her short story ‘Bettering Myself’, which won the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize, keeps half her life – ‘clothes, books, unopened ...

Excessive Weeping

Lauren Oyler: Nicole Flattery’s Stories, 10 October 2019

Show Them a Good Time 
by Nicole Flattery.
Bloomsbury, 238 pp., £14.99, March 2019, 978 1 5266 1190 1
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... young man as semaphore for social problems, but while many recent authors – among them Ottessa Moshfegh, Halle Butler and Catherine Lacey – have attempted to evoke the depths of hopelessness plumbed in the last decade or two, Flattery’s nihilism is uniquely uncynical; she actually seems to believe that nothing matters. The beautiful ...

I feel sorry for sex

Erin Maglaque: Lauren Berlant’s Maximalism, 18 May 2023

On the Inconvenience of Other People 
by Lauren Berlant.
Duke, 238 pp., £21.99, September 2022, 978 1 4780 1845 2
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... Cabin) for evidence of historical affect. Contemporary novels by authors such as Sheila Heti, Ottessa Moshfegh and Jenny Offill convey the inertia and passivity Berlant describes in Cruel Optimism. In Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018), the central character drugs herself with sleeping pills to ...

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