The Millions

I Don’t Trust Images: The Millions Interviews Ottessa Moshfegh

I interview Ottessa Moshfegh at Caffe Vita, in Silverlake, earlier this month. Her novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation has been lauded as one of the best books of 2018. Her first novella, McGlue, will be reissued in January. I previously met Ottessa at USC for one of her readings, during which she defined herself “an overeducated egomaniac.” Then she specified: “But I don’t go around saying that I’m a genius. I work really hard. I just try hard and I do it. You just keep doing it and you get there. This is the secret.”

The Millions: I’m interested in this fact that you were a pianist. You said that once you were playing Chopin in a sentimental way and your teacher told you: “You don’t put sugar on a cake.” I think that this tells a lot of what your taste is when you write.

Ottessa Moshfegh: I think so. I mean, she taught me a lot of things. But I think voice, the subtlety of the voice, crafting a voice in the way that it translates to the ear is the same as music as it is and narrative writing. So that was huge part of the foundation of my taste and sensibility as a writer.

TM: In Europe we say: “Du sublime au ridicule, il n’y a qu’un pas,” which means: “From the sublime to the ridiculous, there’s nothing but a step.”

OM: I love that expression, that’s perfect, I love it. That makes totally sense.

TM: You use a lot this word “tacky,” which is also the word I use the most since I moved to Los Angeles, and in your last book you write, “The more you try to be fashionable, the tackier you’ll look.”

I moved to New York when I was 17 but I grew up in a suburb of Boston. Living in New York

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Millions

The Millions2 min read
Fixing the Femme Fatale: The Millions Interviews Joyce Carol Oates
A new collection of female noir edited by Joyce Carol Oates looks to recast a predominantly male genre. The post Fixing the Femme Fatale: The Millions Interviews Joyce Carol Oates appeared first on The Millions.
The Millions2 min read
Chris Ware Opens Up About ‘Rusty Brown’
I’ve long had the indescribable sense that my childhood and everything that’s ever happened to me is all still "right there" but just slightly out of reach. The post Chris Ware Opens Up About ‘Rusty Brown’ appeared first on The Millions.
The Millions6 min read
Tuesday New Release Day: Starring Machado, Pico, Sexton, Tariq, Older, and More
New titles from the likes of Carmen Maria Machado, Tommy Pico, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, Malcolm Tariq, Daniel José Older, and more. The post Tuesday New Release Day: Starring Machado, Pico, Sexton, Tariq, Older, and More appeared first on The Milli