Ottessa Moshfegh: ‘Americans are really good storytellers and really good liars’

Lisa Allardice in The Guardian:

Routinely hailed as one of the most exciting young American authors working today, she has been compared to Flannery O’Connor, Shirley Jackson and Charles Bukowski (one of her heroes). Her characters are a miserable ensemble of drunks and dropouts, misfits and murderers, pervs and pill-heads – all loners. And she has created an inimitable band of angry, sometimes amoral, often unpleasant and always unreliable narrators, who challenge our assumptions about femininity in uncomfortable ways. Her work takes dirty realism and makes it filthier. But it is is also beautiful: “like seeing Kate Moss take a shit”, as she memorably described her writing; the depravity of her material matched by the purity and precision of her prose (a sort of American Edward St Aubyn, minus the aristos). Just don’t call her a millennial writer, “even though I am millennial”, says the author, who turns 40 next year. “There’s nothing flattering at all about the description right now.”

…The pandemic has provoked “a kind of war-like situation” in the US, she says. But the rise of Black Lives Matter and the recent Native American protests against Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore have given her hope, despite “everything else that is coming to the surface, which is so rotten and so overdue in its exposure”. Americans are “really good storytellers and really good liars”, she says, especially about their country’s history. “It’s over! Enough of us have woken up … have disabused ourselves of a fantasy that everything is OK here because our own lives are fine.” Of course “things can always get worse”, she says, especially “if Trump is re-elected. You can’t underestimate the incredible power of stupidity.”

More here.