Homesick for Another World
Booklist Reviews 2016 October #2
*Starred Review* Man Booker Prize finalist for Eileen (2015), Moshfegh now presents a collection of short stories exploring aspects of the human experience from which we usually avert our eyes, lives which we would rather not acknowledge. A barely functioning alcoholic teacher at an NYC Catholic school, a pimple-pinching violinist in a locked room, an old man trying to manipulate his young female neighbor, and a girl convinced that killing another person will take her to the better world she came from—these are among the evocatively drawn characters Moshfegh animates to provide glimpses of our collective human psyche. Success, failure, belonging, isolation, connections, and nostalgia all are recalibrated in the ways these individuals live and think and feel. Plot twists are almost irrelevant in Moshfegh's unhesitating illumination of dark places. She is fearless in her probing of her characters' emotional wounds, proceeding with such a sure touch that readers are compelled, not repelled. The directness of her style demands that we register the life "stuffed between the mattress and the wall." While it is not always an easy read, this collection will leave readers with a sharper, more compassionate sense of the human condition. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.
PW Reviews 2016 September #1
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.)[Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC