Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Best Short Story Writer in the Game Today

I turned back around to face her crotch—a tender triangle swollen and divided by the thick protuberance of her zipper fly, thick thighs pulling at the weave of red wool. A tiny key hung from a coiled loop of white telephone cord wrapped around her left wrist. She fingered the coils with long, chipped black nails. I had to marry her. If I couldn't, I would kill myself. I broke out in a sweat as though I was about to vomit.

Like Raymond Carver, but with a bit less restraint (and that's not a bad thing), Ottessa Moshfegh writes about relationships, losers and the commonplace with unparallelled vitality and unpredictability. There are no guns, murders or mayhem that typically drive the stories I read/write, and yet I don't miss them whatsoever. The mystery, the desperation, are in the story itself. The characters. Amazing.

In this first-person story, "Dancing in the Moonlight," in The Paris Review, Moshfegh writes as a man, and nails it.

Later that night, leaning against the crumbling, mildewed tile of the shower stall back home, I looked down at myself. I was beautiful, I thought. Legions of curious fingers should be reaching out to touch me. My arms were thick and strong. A spurt of wiry black hair rose from my wrist, trembling in the warm spray like a delicate morning tendril in the dew. There I was, spectacular and alive, and the whole world was missing it.

This story is only in the print edition, but read one of Moshfegh's previous stories in TPR, "The Weirdos," here.

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