Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review: "McGlue" by Ottessa Moshfegh

McGlue, the debut novella by Ottessa Moshfegh is a nasty, brutal little book that comes at you like a punch from the shadowy corners of the human mind. It never shows its full hand, which can be frustrating at times, but it makes up for that with an intense, moody atmosphere where the reader is never quite sure what is real and what is imagined, and it mixes that with a McGlue’s strange, fractured characterization: he is a man who has already fallen into the abyss, and he is just waiting to see where he lands (hint, it isn’t a good place.) Moshfegh’s debut novel, Eileen, which I read and adored last year, shares little in the way of plot details, but carries the approach to first person narration that she developed in this book. It begins in the hole sometime during the beginning of the 18th century: McGlue, his head cracked and with a few teeth missing finds himself being blamed for the murder of a man named Johnson, who we soon find out was McGlue only reluctant friend in the world. The perspective shifts dramatically, as McGlue, hankering for a drink, recalls his life: from the time he met Johnson, to his late brother, to his beloved dog and his put upon mother. I can’t say all these things form something tangible, or even what the book’s ultimate meaning is, if there is one, but it never bored me. It reminded me a lot of a paired down version of Hubert Selby Jr.’s The Room, a forgotten novel of his that has the same premise of a criminal locked up in a cell with nothing but nasty thoughts to keep him company, minus the gross, bulbous zit. This is a quick read at only 118 pages, and it is a great introduction new and original literary voice. 

Rating: 4/5

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