Death in Her Hands – Otessa Moshfegh
I read Moshfegh’s Eileen a few years back. After I started this one I had to go back and read my summary of it to recall that it was an odd little book.
This one was odd, too.
It is the story of a Vesta Gul, a widowed, 80-something woman who lives in an old Girl Scout cabin with her dog. One morning on their daily walk through the woods she stumbles across a note that claims that the body of a dead woman named Magda is nearby.
Vesta quickly becomes obsessed with finding out who killed Magda, and what led the Magda’s death. Using fiction writer’s tools, she sketches out details of the lives of Magda and the people around her. She sneaks around the small town near her home, hoping to find clues. Then the story gets really odd.
I struggled with this book a lot. Especially the final fourth or so. I really was not sure what Moshfegh was trying to do, or where she was trying to take me. Was this a deconstruction of the classic murder mystery? A new take on that genre? A psychological examination of a woman who may be exhibiting signs of dementia? A treatise on aging and loneliness? These are all ideas that popped into my head, but I don’t know that I could make a convincing argument for any of them.
I’m glad I’m not in a book club where people smarter than me who got the book discussed it while I was forced to sit there flipping pages, wondering how the hell they came up with their theories.
The Majors: In Pursuit of Golf’s Holy Grail – John Feinstein
It’s a good thing Feinstein tells good stories. Because as I work my way through his books I’m finding them more and more repetitive. It doesn’t matter what sport he writes about, he hits the same notes, finds the same rhythms, uses the same phrases over and over. What is especially annoying is how cliched some of his writing is. I would expect better from a Duke grad who, according to the jacket of this book, is America’s most beloved sportswriter.
I may have written that exact same paragraph the last time I read one of his books.
This one is about the 1999 golf majors: The Masters, The US Open, The (British) Open Championship, and the PGA Championship. There are some good stories in there, and it was another notch in the old book count for the year, but I probably need to stop with his books because they are more annoying than entertaining to me now.