A Writer’s Craft

I’ve been reading Ottessa Moshfegh’s newest book, My Year of Rest and Relaxation. I was an instant fan when I read Eileen and she hasn’t disappointed. Her writing is so distinct and I’m noticing some of the things that make it read like Ottessa. The one I’m going to talk about today is her use of similes and metaphors. As a literal person, figurative language has always evaded me, as in I can’t come up with them! So, I’m a big admirer of writers who can pull it off well. Exhibit 1: The narrator talks about feeling “both relieved and irritated.” That could have been the end, but she compares it to how you’d feel if someone shows up in the middle of your suicide (!!!) I find that to be so skillful because:

    It is a highly specific situation
    It describes relief and irritation perfectly
    After this bomb, she continues like nothing is out of the norm

Exhibit 2: The narrator describes how her older sort of-boyfriend pays no attention to her, and she knows it. To him, she is the “mac ‘n’ cheese or marshmallow cereal” at the grocery store. Again, she could’ve stopped there and we would know what she means, but Moshfegh takes the metaphor and runs with it by going on:

    She was kids’ stuff
    She was nonsense
    She wasn’t worth the calories

By this point, we know exactly how little Trevor values the her and how well she is aware of it.

👏👏 As a reader, I’m always in awe of writers’ craft and the ways that they make writing their own. More to come!

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