‘A Dark and Winding Road’ by Ottessa Moshfegh

Moshfegh is flawless generally, but is supersonic when reinventing the cliches of fiction. A man travelling to a dark hut in the woods, surely ripe territory for an American horror story? I guess it is a horror story for the narrator, who is running from the environment his as yet unborn child will create and his “life as [he’d] known it [is] forever ruined.”

Chekhov said that if a gun is placed in a scene it must at some point be used. Exploring the old house the man finds Chekhov’s gun, only its a large pink dildo. And it really does go off in a way I never expected.  With an end game typical of Moshfegh’s, it’s unclear whether the characters have been liberated or debilitated. 

First published in The Paris Review Winter 2013, and available for subscribers to read here. Collected in Homesick for Another World, Jonathan Cape, 2017

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