Ottessa Moshfegh | Granta's Best of Young American Novelists



The first thing that one must do is to
traumatize the reader, to just be like Ungh – you know? Yeah. You guys don't know. You don't know and I'm going to tell you right now what the world
is and where we're going. They spent two days cutting my arms and poking my head with a branding iron. They wrapped me in raw mutton for a
night. They tied a string around a wolf's tooth and had me swallow it. When it came out the other end, that's when I discovered the light. Some of the light
spilled out that night, blinding my eyes and pulsing orbs of God. I didn't need a
mirror then, I was a spry, soft-boned kid. My entire world revolved. I swallowed a
wolf's tooth again, and again the light seeped out when I pulled it out from up
there, deep inside. I tried it the other way, illuminating the tooth directly. Can you tell what the story is about from that excerpt? I mean it's about a guy
putting things up his ass. Yeah, illuminations. Why did you call it
illumination rather than – Rather than getting things shitty? Yeah. You know I'm playing
with this idea that the divine light is within. And I think it's true, and I
think that we have certain ideas about how we experience that, and I think a lot
of times we think that God is in our minds, and so I'm kind of flipping that
in reverse and saying no it's up your butt. Do you remember what you were
thinking when you were writing this story? I have always been pretty fascinated with the discrepancy between the mind and the
body. In my experience the division between these two spheres is not so
clean-cut. Yeah I wanted to ask you more about plotting – and how, how has your attitude towards plotting changed? Well the weird thing
that's happening is I've become a novelist, and so plot, which I used to
think of as something that was sort of like a trite construct for people who wanted
to write stories that were more like movies, has become really important
to me and I've started to see novels more like movies, and – and that, I like
when things happen. It's exciting. It kind of manipulates the reader in a way, plot, it can kind of pull you in, or it can kind of direct the reader. Stories can be a form of mind control, and I've always thought of reading as a virtual reality
experience. I was talking to my sister the other day, who's brilliant, and she was
talking about how – like in cults, in order to brainwash them the first
thing that they do is traumatize them, so I was thinking, you know, what I'm doing
as a novelist – you guys might regret giving me this award – I might actively try to enact some of that reader trauma, in order to hook the
reader into believing the thing that I want to show them. Thanks very much for coming in. Yeah, it's my pleasure. Congratulations again being on the list It's my honour.

4 thoughts on “Ottessa Moshfegh | Granta's Best of Young American Novelists

  1. This lady, Ottessa Moshfegh, has a powerhouse imagination. I recently read her short novel McGlue. McGlue is a sailor who might have murdered his friend and shipmate in a foreign port. The story unravels itself while McGlue goes through a totally shocking alcoholic detoxification aboard ship, all the while they are steaming back to Boston where McGlue will stand trail for murder. I'll admit, I'm greatly enjoying sea stories that reveal the harsh world of ships and sailors, so I'm biased toward liking this story. Here's the review I wrote for McGlue by Otessa Moshfegh:

    http://shipsandsailorsblog.blogspot.com/2017/09/alcoholic-sailor-with-serious.html

  2. Just a heads up to other viewers. When you click on the link in the description to “read the story” you will find that after spending time reading a good portion of the story Granta Magazine will inform you that you have to subscribe to the magazine and pay money to finish reading it.

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