What I’ve been reading: February

There’s really no better way to spend a windy, snowy evening snuggled up with a good book. With the delights of the cold February weather, I’ve had ample opportunity to do just this. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Homesick for Another World – Ottessa Moshfegh

I’m a big fan of anything that gets me thinking about the human condition and my word does Homesick for Another World fit that bill. As the title might suggest, Homesick for Another World is all about people’s dissatisfaction with the world they live in and their inability to transcend or escape the sordidness of life. A collection of short stories, set in various places around America, Moshfegh captures the disillusionment that engulfs life as we know it; her characters are a collection of self-destructive people reaching out for an end goal that’s either unattainable or unsatisfactory. There are no happy endings. Because that’s life. This sordid, dirty look at the world was kind of morbidly fascinating for me, and whilst I didn’t like what I was seeing, I couldn’t turn away. Moshfegh’s focus on rotting environments and decaying, zombie-like humans highlights the wastefulness of life as we know it. We’re wasting time, we’re wasting our planet and we’re wasting away. Definitely a must-read for every cynic out there.

Elmet – Fiona Mozley

After exiting the world of Moshfegh, a scene of rural idyll was welcome. Fiona Mozley’s Elmet begins in a tranquil copse in the Yorkshire countryside, focusing on the harmonious relationship between a father and his children who live off the land in a home of their own creation. Think Thoreau’s Walden but modern day. Unfortunately, the scene quickly turns sour, and once again, we’re presented with the stark contrast between the natural world and the world of human interference. Class struggles, power dynamics, masculinity and money issues all come into play, as Mozley explores the themes of family, home, ownership and greed. This novel pulls into harsh perspective the realities of poverty, loneliness and human nature whilst outlining the loss of our roots for good.