Welcome to the ELLE.com Shelf Life section, where the authors share their most memorable readings. Whether you’re looking for a book that would comfort you, move you deeply, or make you laugh, consider the recommendation of the writers in our series who, like you (since you’ve been here), adore books. Maybe one of their favorite titles will become yours too.
Her third novel (Death in Her Hands) came out during closure; now comes the fourth Ottessa Moshfegh, Lapvona (Penguin Press), written during the closure.
Moshfegh’s first book, Eileen, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for the PEN / Hemingway Award for Debut Novel. Sales of her second, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, about a young woman trying to sleep through her trauma for a year, increased during the pandemic as readers struggled with their own isolation. She also spoke with Proenza Schouler, for whom she wrote a short story for the duo’s collection for Fall 2022. She also contributed a story for a series of Gagosian picture books.
McGlue is adapting her short story for Vice Films, for which she will be a producer; film rights for MYORAR were selected by production company Margot Robbie and Atlas Films; and she and her husband Luke Goebel co-wrote the screenplay for Eileen with Anne Hathaway in the lead role and co-wrote the screenplay Red, White and Water.
The book that:
…kept me up way too late:
The author from Newton, Massachusetts, Pasadena, played four instruments until the age of seven (her Iranian father is a violinist and her Croatian mother a violist); skipped 8th grade; she earned a master’s degree from Brown and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford; lives in a stone house from 1920 called Casa de Pájaros (House of Birds); consults a Vedic astrologer, has a mongrel named Walter; wrote in a fictional letter to Donald Trump that he uses his middle name Charlotte at Starbucks; taught English and worked at a punk bar in Wuhan, China. Poor in: painting. Good in: enjoying real crime shows, loneliness.
…I recommend over and over again:
Communion Whitley Strieber. It’s a “True Story” that describes the author’s encounters with aliens, and I like the way it’s written: frankly, intelligently, confidently, and very descriptively.
…shaped my worldview:
Movable Hemingway Feast. He has everything little by little: the truth, the times, his adventures, his co-workers, his struggles. When I first read it, I was in Paris on a high school trip. Read also : Trust yourself: Netflix gets ads. The last time I spent a lot of time in Paris, I read The Life of Picasso I: John Richardson’s Wonder Boy. I have never recommended it before. That’s fascinating.
…I swear I’ll finish one day:
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. This may interest you : Good Manners Reveal Their High Secrets of Anxiety-No Summer Walking with Kids. Probably the most important American novel of the last century.
…I read in one sitting, it was that good:
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. I read the first hundred pages a dozen times. It’s so good. I think it’s so good that it exhausts me, honestly. On the same subject : What are You Not Knowing Me on Netflix?. I just say to myself, “Wow!” at the end of each paragraph. Maybe I’ll finish it when I’m big …
…currently sits on my nightstand:
Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala. It is a beautiful memory of a sudden and incomprehensible loss. It’s also a survival story and it inspired me a lot after I lost my brother.
…made me laugh out loud:
Some biographies of Audrey Hepburn. Barry Paris is extremely detailed!
…has the best opening line:
Charles Bukowski’s women. It completely turned upside down my notion of what a novel is. She is so clever and funny, and she is told by the most depraved and brilliant protagonist. It is both a disgusting love letter to women and a grotesque self-portrait of a man he will never understand.
…helped me become a better writer:
“I was a child killer.” This is the introductory line to Joyce Carol Oates’s book Dear Persons. He continues, “I don’t mean a child killer, even though it’s an idea. I am thinking of a murderer, that is, a murderer who happens to be a child, or a child who is a random murderer. You can choose your own. When Aristotle realizes that man is a rational animal, we stretch forward and close our ears to hear which of these words is emphasized – a reasonable animal, a reasonable animal? who am i A child killer, a child killer? ”Amazing…
…is a master class on dialogue:
An early collection of short stories by Gary Lutz, Stories in the Worst Way. I discovered Lutz when I was in high school. There is so much precision in the construction of each sentence. I really sat down and fell more deeply in love with grammar that I appreciated that he had such a deep and beautiful system of reason behind him.
…I’ve re-read the most:
Interview books by Kristina McKenna with the most interesting artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers of the last 50 years, Talk to Her and Book of Changes! She is probably one of the best interlocutors on the planet.
…sealed a friendship:
Aghora: On the left side of God Robert E. Freedom. I have read this book so many times because I know I will never fully understand it, but I would love to. It details the stories and teachings of Aghori Vimalananda, which are very unusual and very difficult for me to keep in mind.
…fills me with hope:
Mars Room by Rachel Kushner. Rachel is a genius with a huge heart. I am honored to call her a friend.
…I’d want signed by the author:
Drinking: Caroline Knapp’s love story. I read this in my 20s when I first stopped drinking. She has written other books that I love, but this one made the strongest impression on me. Perhaps these were the first memories I ever read.
Read Moshfegh’s Picks:
West of Paradise by Jean Stein. I had a signed copy of the book dedicated to me, but I lost it in one of my travels around the country. Stein was a dear friend and I was working on the book a little towards the end of her editing process. Stein died in 2017 and I really miss her.
What to read if you liked seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo?
Joyce Carol Oates
- Kristine McKenna
- Robert E. Freedom
- Rachel Kushner
What is the message of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo?
Why you should read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo?
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