PositiveThe RumpusOttessa Moshfegh’s propulsive debut fiction collection, Homesick For Another World, is populated with characters right out of this [Dirty Realism] tradition ... Moshfegh’s gritty and realistic stories feel lightly, yet eerily, untethered from reality—partially because her characters seem to view the world they occupy as if it’s different from the one that’s really there ... Moshfegh’s stories are made and broken by her characters, whose quirks—an obsession with crystal skulls, say, or a penchant for heavy drug use confined to a single town during the summer season—seem simultaneously symbolic and symptomatic of their failures ... these stories are devastating and droll in equal measures, and their characters make firm, if unsettling, impressions. The disadvantage is a sense of sameness across these stories, leading to the impression that the collection might have packed a bigger punch had it included, say, three fewer selections. This may be more of an editorial problem than a writerly one; either way, it is unavoidable. The stories are admirably thematically consistent, but at some point, the slighter pieces inevitably blur with the others because of it.
PositiveElectric LiteratureThrills are Percy’s specialty and calling, in case you hadn’t noticed, and a plot that keeps the reader seeking answers is his Holy Grail. His appetite for skillful storytelling is admirably indiscriminatory ... His textual exegesis, that gold standard of literary criticism, is crisp and pithy, serving the essays and their flows and rhythms rather than overwhelming with shows of erudition. The book treads little new ground, but Percy makes style count ... Thrill Me is comprehensive in its scope, touching on most of the important pieces of storycraft from stylistic choices to character development, but in part because it’s just over 170 pages, it simply doesn’t have the space to do more than just that?—?touch on. It does so with character and vigor, and with a joyful populist tone, but rarely does it delve deep.
PositiveElectric Literaturea delightfully knotty synthesis of psychological study, philosophical inquiry, romantic page-turner, and economic critique.