I’m glad they are reissuing Moshfegh’s first work now that her books have found a steady following! This little novella set in 1851 is quite interesting, following the perspective of a man being held for the murder of his friend as he floats back and forth between present events and the past, attempting to remember what happened leading up to his friend’s death.
This novella has shades of Eileen—Moshfegh’s breakout novel—throughout, evoking the dark and brooding atmosphere of that work along with the strange and unsettling narration that digs deep into the mind of a semi-disturbed individual.
Her writing, though sometimes a little difficult to unpack, forces the reader to fully reside in the mind of her character, however uncomfortable that place may be. You aren’t just seeing the world of the character, you are experiencing what they experience, thinking their strange, unconnected thoughts, and in a way, becoming them—it can be scary place.
This novella isn’t perfect, but I definitely saw the shadow of Moshfegh’s writing to come and as a completist, I love to see where authors have been and how their early work threads through their later work.
I’d definitely recommend this as a one-sitting type read. Though it does have chapter separations, there is a flow to the book that almost demands you to live in it, and experience it, all at once. I have a feeling it is the type of read I would see new things in if I read it again, too.
My thanks to Penguin Press for my advance copy of this one to read and review.
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.