When I found out Ottessa Moshfegh was going to be one of the visiting authors in the Roosevelt University MFA Program’s Reading Series this spring, I downloaded a sample of her highly acclaimed novel Eileen to my IPad and started reading. When I finished the sample, I immediately downloaded the full novel and read until I fell asleep. I got up and finished the novel the next day. It was that good. Crazy good. I just couldn’t not keep reading it.
In her 2015 review of Eileen, Lily King of the New York Times said, “There is that wonderful tension between wanting to slow down and bathe in the language and imagery, and the impulse to race to see what happens, how it happens.” I know what she means and not just as it relates to the novel. Once you read Moshfegh’s work, you want to read more of it. After I finished Eileen, I got online and read several of her short stories in the New Yorker and the Paris Review because I wanted to see what she made happen.
Lucky for us, Moshfegh is making more happen. She has a collection of short stories titled Homesick for Another Land forthcoming, as well as another novel (or two), in the works. Eileen is nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award this year, and she received the prestigious Plimpton Prize from the Paris Review for her short stories in 2013. Additionally, Moshfegh was honored with both the Fence Modern Prize in Prose and the Believer Book Award for her novella, McGlue, which was published in 2014.
Come to the Gage Building, 18 S. Michigan Avenue, 7th floor, Chicago, on March 21st to hear Ottessa Moshfegh read and discuss her work. Do not miss it. This may be the only chance you have to meet her because I have a feeling she’s about to get very busy. The film rights for Eileen have been optioned by Scott Rudin who produced The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Social Network. Both were nominated for multiple Academy Awards, winning in four and three categories respectively.
Will Moshfegh add an Oscar to her list of accolades? I’d have to say there’s a good chance the answer is yes. She has an art for storytelling that is unsettling and engaging all at once. She finds beauty in the bleak and humor in the dark. Moshfegh’s work is a little bit crazy, a little bit brave. She creates the kind of characters audiences love to cheer for, even as they question their sanity. She writes the kind of stories that we love to read. In her review of Scott Spencer’s book Endless Love at TheMillions.com, Moshfegh says, “it’s worth going a little insane from time to time. If I don’t, I may have nothing to write about.”
Words to live by. We should all get a little crazy once in a while. Come to the reading on March 21st and let’s see what happens. I guarantee there will be at least a little bit of crazy. Crazy good writing, that is.