‘A Dark and Winding Road’ by Ottessa Moshfegh

I have a major crush on Ottessa Moshfegh’s writing right now. First I read ‘An Honest Woman’, then I heard her read ‘A Dark and Winding Road’, then I binged on her brilliant collection Homesick for Another World. She says she’s done with the short story, which is a shame, but has already written more good ones than a lot of people manage so it’s hard to begrudge her decision. Her characters are borderline if not full-blown grotesques, her vision of the world is bleak – transactional, treacherous, comfortless – but my god, what a stylist. She’s like a secular Flannery O’Connor. The first 14 lines of ‘A Dark and Winding Road’ are flawless, themselves a winding route to the story’s dark heart: the narrator’s “one last weekend to myself before the baby was born and my life as I’d known it was forever ruined”.

From Homesick for Another World, Jonathan Cape 2017, first published in the Paris Review Winter 2013. Hear Ottessa Moshfegh read the story in Episode 7 of the Paris Review podcast, here

‘An Honest Woman’ by Ottessa Moshfegh

Ottessa Moshfegh is a genius. She’s talented, outspoken and interested in portraying lives that make other people feel uncomfortable. I enjoy watching the reactions to her work as much as I enjoy reading the work itself.

In ‘An Honest Woman’, Jeb sets up his nephew with the unnamed young woman who lives next door. His opinions of women are pretty grim: “You know women. Stray cats, all of them, either purring in your lap or pissing in your shoes.” Doesn’t stop him trying to take what he fancies though.

In Homesick for Another World. First published in The New Yorker and available to read here