‘The Weirdos’ by Ottessa Moshfegh

The Weirdos by Ottessa Moshfegh, 2013

The magic trick:

A description that conveys exposition, setting, humor, and mood all in one sentence

There is a description early in “The Weirdos” (Ottessa Moshfegh’s possibly immature but still very funny early story set in the not-quite-Hollywood portion of Los Angeles) that stopped me in my proverbial tracks.

“He was the manager of an apartment complex in a part of town where the palm trees were sick.”

I think it’s great. Just really, really great.

It gives you exposition, setting, humor, and mood all at once.

And that’s quite a trick on Moshfegh’s part.

The selection:

“When I get paid,” he said, dusting the mantle, “I’m going to wear my yellow sports jacket and take you out on the town. Did I show you my yellow sports jacket? I bought it at a vintage boutique,” he said. “It was really expensive. It’s awesome.”

I’d seen it in the closet. It was a contemporary, size 8 woman’s blazer, according to the label.

“Show me,” I said.

He ran, tucking his shirt in, licking his palms to slick his hair back, and came back with it on. His fingers barely poked out from the cuffs. The shoulder pads nearly hit his ears, as he had basically no neck. “What do you think?” he asked.

“You look very nice,” I said, masking my lie with a yawn.

He grabbed me, picked me up, pinning my elbows, twirled me around, making pained faces from the effort, despite his Olympic strength. “Soon, babe, I’m gonna take you to Vegas and marry you.”

“Okay,” I said. “When?”

“Babe, you know I can’t really do that,” he said, putting me down, suddenly grave and uncomfortable, as though the idea had been mine.


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