...startling and impressive ... collectively they reveal Moshfegh’s pervasive preoccupations: ugliness, depravity, wackos and weirdos, the sordid and the morbid, the perverse and the profane ... Despite her unsparing dissection of their paranoias, fetishes, and failings, Moshfegh doesn’t condescend to her characters; she is both gimlet-eyed and compassionate. These are 'sad. . . lonely and troubled' people, but many are improbably appealing; even the most twisted and tortured have recognizably human qualities ... The stories, quite frankly, are not just grotesque; they are gross. Reading them is an uncomfortable experience. The squeamish and the Pollyannaish will likely find life inside Moshfegh’s world harsh, painful, torturous. But if you can stomach the discomfort, there is both piercing wit and unexpected poignancy to be found in Moshfegh’s original and resonant collection.
...her stories exploit the fun, singsong qualities of storytelling while peddling a manic savagery that doesn’t fit the medium ... Like her peers—Tao Lin, Nell Zink, Alexandra Kleeman—Moshfegh writes characters who shrink big feelings into flat utterances, the kind of disaffected tone that feels born of the internet and its mechanisms for emotional distance. The overall effect is of an ancient fairytale performed by bad television actors, the kind who seem to be makeup all the way through ... Moshfegh repeatedly subjects the human body to extreme experiences: miscarried pregnancies, intellectual disability, eating disorders. This is not a very modern thing to do, because it is cheap and sadistic. But it is a very postmodern thing to do, because no body is blank and healthy and symbolically normal in real life ... Moshfegh’s stories end with heavy clangs, which makes them feel like fables. But they’re knitted so airily throughout that they also feel like advertisements ... Nell Zink writes like this, and so do Helen DeWitt and Alexandra Kleeman and Tony Tulathimutte. Such books refract ordinary life into the grotesque surreal through their insistent lack of engagement. Although they would find it unpleasant to be grouped by name, I’d call them surreal minimalists. These novelists are the grandchildren of Camus, writers who estrange and estrange until some new world comes glowing through the old, empty one. The emotions are minimal, but the worlds of these novels are colorful and weird. These writers represent the first wave of novelists who truly respond to and incorporate the syntactic and emotional influence of the internet, and our embrace of them, as readers, represents the same. Homesick for Another World abuses its chosen genre, just as Moshfegh intended, but in the way that Dr. Frankenstein abused his raw materials. Raw and red and sutured, his monster was tortured into consciousness, to live.
That sound you hear? Packs of barking dogs, screaming sirens echoing through the hallowed halls of the literary patriarchy? That’s Ottessa Moshfegh and her debut collection of stories, Homesick for Another World setting off the alarm ... Moshfegh has a taste for targeting the culture’s misogyny and male privilege. Sentence to sentence she gleefully manipulates the fates of her despicable cast of entitled, sexually repressed egomaniacs ... Moshfegh writes writes with Bukowksi-like gusto and a loving matter-of-factness about their — or rather she would say our — most base bodily functions. The ways our bodies terrorize us and the satisfaction that can be gained in seizing control ... Amid all this physical deformity, the most successful stories are those about characters that are ugly on the inside. Moshfegh’s flair for evisceration is best displayed when the character isn’t wearing a colostomy bag but a Hermes ... Tempted though you might be, it’s a disservice to the book as a whole to read the stories one after the other. If you could. The sameness of the characters and locations can cause stories to blur together. Moshfegh’s insistence on focusing on the uneasy, outwardly hostile relationship the characters have with their bodies can at times feel puerile and, other times, it obscures the larger story.