After 19 Books and a Presidential Bid, Eileen Myles Gets Her Due
I never mentioned it to anyone. Unfortunately, Rebecca comes to us straight from the thriller camp.
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But Eileen already has a dark bond. It is with her father. And it is truly, deeply dark — and raw, and real. Rebecca and her motivations, once we learn them, feel pasted in from another book.
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They do not square with the universe Moshfegh so meticulously created in the first part of the novel. We want Rebecca to be as twisted and interesting as Eileen, as tortured and menacing as her father. And then we have to let those hopes go. The real excitement toward the end is watching Eileen come into a position of authority for the first time in her life.
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With a gun in her hand and someone weaker and more compromised than herself to address, she steps into power. Later, when Eileen is thinking back on Rebecca, she even reclaims her own novel.
There was a period in my 20s when I was a crack-up. Eileen , which revolves around a juvenile prison, and the particular motivation for a patricide, is shaped by this anger.
She was born in Boston to a Croatian mother and an Iranian father, both professional musicians. Her family was culturally rich but financially poor within an affluent Bostonian neighbourhood: Moshfegh was ashamed of their rusting car, but read the complete works of Hermann Hesse at an alarmingly young age, and was playing four instruments by the time she was seven.
So I had that realisation, and then people were telling me to put my crayons away.
And to get in line, and to smile. And I thought this was total bullshit.
Her sense of alienation is expressed with humour, but is genuine and profound. The shape the hell took is precisely what my work is about.
Before it was published, she had already begun the series of stories to be included in Homesick for Another World , which led to recognition, awards and fellowships. But … it came from very close to home.
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The stories in between are highly varied and hugely entertaining, but most originate from a position of hostility or a difficult personal experience. Many of them skewer egomaniacal men and privileged people unaware of their bigotry. Even as her renown has increased, Moshfegh has expressed discomfort with becoming a literary personality. If an American writer won it, she thinks, the media in the US would care more about the prize. So what if, in some circles, Eileen gets bracketed with the bestselling thrillers by Flynn and Hawkins?
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Topics Ottessa Moshfegh A life in What advice do you have to women who are moving in to leadership roles in the industry? The more questions you ask the better you are prepared for the next challenge. I have the impression a certain level of judgment can be passed on female capabilities within this industry. I think the change has to come from the banks first, which we have seen a little of, however I think it will be many years before we see an equal amount of women in trader and senior positions. There are plenty more women out there like Eileen, and I plan to showcase others on my blog over the coming months.