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A writer against friendly literature – EL PAIS

The writer Ottessa Moshfegh (Boston, 1981) seems determined to prove that she can convince critics and audiences with her peculiar predilection for unconventional stories, something demented and perverse, strangely addictive and tinted with a sarcastic black humor. He finds it the hardest, there is no doubt about it, and he is good at it. In his latest novel, My year of rest and relaxation (Alfaguara), this translates into more than 300 pages in which the reader is dragged along to the narcoleptic project of a rich and beautiful heiress who decides to be expelled from the world for 12 months in 2000, their work in a leaving art gallery in Chelsea and locking himself into his apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, to sleep by hitting pills and trying to be reborn after purifying fear.

Almost as remarkable as the protagonist's project is Moshfegh's idea to write about someone who just wants to sleep and sleep. "I spent a summer in that neighborhood in a friend's house and I started imagining the character's life, that's how the game started.The more she wrote, the clearer it became that there was a mission that she pushed himself to sleep to get away from a trauma, "he explained in a phone call from Los Angeles on Wednesday. "Placing it at that time prior to the fall of the Twin Towers was something that took shape when describing the gallery where I worked and the art of that period."

As the narrator of his previous novel My name was Eileen -Winner of the PEN / Hemingway Award and nominated for the Man Booker, the leading voice of My year of rest and relaxation it contains a brutal sincerity and cruelty, a clever humor, frankly ruthless, rare in fiction. Does Moshfegh miss the brightest female storytellers? "There are intimate things that often do not appear in the novels, but it is not that I have a plan to correct it, nor am I a typical reader because I am a writer: if a book has a mind and something is not shown I think it's a well-considered decision, I really do not care, a character that's not complete does not bother me, the beauty in literature is not a scale that takes into account. "With the character of Eileen and her eschatological scenes, this well-known admirer of Charles Bukowski clearly displayed it. Between that narrator and the new dormant beauty, the writer sees some similarities – "they have difficult relationships with their mothers and voices with a similar hue" – but if the first was invisible to the world and wanted to immerse themselves in it, the second wants to escape by hitting pills. The starting point of My year of rest and relaxation, recognizes Moshfegh, was "dangerous" at a time like the current in which the United States is trapped in a brutal crisis of opiates and addictions. "I did not want to write about someone who is hanged and dependent on someone who deliberately uses medication." Moshfegh rejects head-on victimization in his novels and in the rest of his writings, such as the essay he published in the fall in the magazine Granta about how he, when he arrived at the university, tried to decorate a senior writer who flirted with him, the opposite of # Metetoo. "I'm not interested in victim stories, but in active characters, the victims are passive, the stories that come out of it detract from the power of the characters."

The label of rara avis It fits well with Moshfegh. The Iranian father and the Croatian mother, both musicians, grew up on the east coast, studied in Barnard, lived for a few years in China, suffered sclerosis and met her friend, with whom she spent long periods in the desert, during an interview . "Every character I write is not me, but I see myself reflected." And with the latter he shares an unbridled passion for Whoopi Goldberg, "an honestly other being".


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