I decided to give Book of the Month Club a shot. For the first month, I made a mistake…
I judged the book by its cover, which I actually love doing, but every so often it gets me in trouble. So here we have Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh. I read the title and saw the cool retro spaceship and thought, “aww yiss…sci-fi adventure awaits.” The short description also didn’t give me a good idea of what the book was about, and I still assumed sci-fi. Dead wrong. Not even remotely sci-fi. This book is a collection of short stories about people and why they and their lives are crappy. It’s a little James Joyce’s Dubliners meets hardcore pornography in a bathroom stall. I freaking loved Dubliners unlike many of my fellow English majors because I loved the glimpses of everyday life and how Joyce could represent flawed characters with such beautiful prose. Many people are unsatisfied when stories don’t have conclusions or moments of redemption, but I thought the snapshot stories in the middle of a person’s life were fascinating. I apparently only like it when James Joyce does it though. Like many modern, award-winning books, this collection was just way too much for me. It’s too graphic. It only looks at the extreme grotesque-ness of humanity. A bunch of the reviews I read after putting the book down were talking about how the stories are so real and true to life, and if these are that true to so many people’s lives, I am sorry. Yes, we all pick laziness sometimes. Yes, we all think crappy things sometimes. However, the stories I did make it through were just the characters being a crapfest of a person 24/7. No thank you. What I learned in booking school is…read the lengthy review by the staff member before selecting my book each month.
This month was not a loss, however. As a New Year’s gift, the staff of Book of the Month Club included “The Grownup” by Gillian Flynn. This story was my first experience with Flynn, and it freaking knocked my socks off. One of the best stories I’ve ever read, seriously. It’s 62 pages, and it completely twisted in new directions so many times. Not only that, but the twists surprised me every time. The story is easy and rewarding to read in one sitting. I feel like this story did a much better job at exploring flawed humanity than Moshfegh’s stories, so I’m glad they came together. Otherwise, I probably never would have compared the two and may not have pegged one of the things I liked most about Flynn’s story. The story is interesting and creative because it starts out as a story I’ve read a thousand times and then completely flips everything around and becomes an entirely new type of story. Also, I really love the cover.
All in all, I would call January a win for Book of the Month. I didn’t like Moshfegh’s book, but it’s impossible to like every book you pick up. I can send it out in the world for someone that will like it. I loved Flynn’s story, and I now see why her books have sold so many copies; I will likely read more of her writing.