Ottessa Moshfegh is the author of Eileen, a novel that won 2016’s PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction. But she began her career writing prize-winning stories, many of which are collected in her new book, Homesick for Another World.
Best books...chosen by Ottessa Moshfegh
Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours by Luke B. Goebel (Fiction Collective Two, $17). Fifty pages past its deceptively nondescript cover, I had to put this book down and go splash water on my face. I read a little more and found myself sobbing in the bath with the tap still running. Employing autobiography veiled by fiction, Goebel has an imagination both wild and tender, and mines his heart and yours with reverence and humility. God bless him.
You Are Having a Good Time by Amie Barrodale (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, $14). Barrodale’s stories straddle the mundane material world and the realm of the sacred, the impossible, the incomprehensible. I had to lie down between each one, head spinning, until I could accept the paradigm shift that had just taken place inside my brain.
Binary Star by Sarah Gerard (Two Dollar Radio, $16). Gerard is a poet with the sensibility of a scientist and a genius for the language of the mind. This is not simply a book about an anarchist anorexic on a road trip with a psychotic lover, but an astral journey into a gorgeous abyss in which all of humanity appears perfectly imperfect by starlight, and full of redemptive potential.
Deep Ellum by Brandon Hobson (Calamari, $14). Restrained, dark, and strangely silent, this almost unbearably compelling novel reminds me how blood ties can cut as deeply and painfully as broken glass through the foot. If you’ve ever had a homecoming laced with sadness and longing, you’ll relate to it.
Among Strange Victims by Daniel Saldaña París (Coffee House, $17). A tale of academic silliness and the mythology of a madman hero, here is a trip into delusional intellectual disappointment. If it sounds absurdly esoteric, it is, but it is also honest and entertaining as hell. Translated with uncanny brilliance by Christina MacSweeney, it astounded me with every phrase.
West of Eden by Jean Stein (Random House, $30). A collection of bizarre family sagas of the Hollywood elite, this oral history by the genremaking Stein, a genius interviewer, revealed more to me about the city I live in than any star-map bus tour ever could. It is compelling and tragic and oftentimes ridiculous, like L.A. itself.