20 Books to Pick Up This Month
Moshfegh has a wondrous ability to inhabit her characters’ voices, as in “The Weirdos,” about a self-hating couple, a half-deranged actor manqué and his girlfriend (our narrator), who sees right through him but can’t manage to leave. And while the writing is unadorned, plain speech, it’s punctuated by little explosives—flashes of searing insight. Take “Malibu,” featuring a rootless do-nothing who says of his ailing uncle’s propensity for watching trash TV, “He was just like me: anything good made him want to die. That’s a characteristic some smart people have.” Observations like that contribute to the unsettling mood that pervades the entire book. After going on a date with a woman whose number he dials at random, the narrator describes the encounter thus: “We got up and ate the food she had made.... Then I threw up and said good-bye. I told her I’d call her.” Behind every relaxed utterance lurks a quiet mania.