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McGlue by Ottessa Moshfegh


Hello and welcome, it has been a while since I posted something on this blog, so maybe it is about time I did some posting then! Today I am going to write about “McGlue” by Ottessa Moshfegh


McGlue: Salem, Massachusetts, 1851: McGlue is in the hold, still too drunk to be sure of his name or situation or orientation – he may have killed a man. That man may have been his best friend. Now, McGlue wants one thing and one thing only: a drink. Because for McGlue, insufferable, terrifying memories accompany sobriety.


This novella was recommended to me by a college and dear friend who’s book taste I hold in high regard, when you work in a bookshop you tend to talk and recommend books to each other (actually, every job I have had I seem to talk about books, so I guess it’s just me then). My friend was quite fervent in her recommendation, she said it was a twisted tale about an alcoholic with a hole in his head remembering a life or repressed homosexuality and misogyny, where the main character had angry woman hating sex with prostitutes. Truth be told, she had me at twisted tale about an alcoholic with a hole in his head remembering a life or repressed homosexuality and misogyny, where the main character had angry woman hating sex with prostitutes. Not exactly the selling point for most people, but it definitely worked for me!


The story is told in a non-linear, almost hallucinating(due to his head injury) manner, from the point of view of McGlue himself, from the moment when he is thrown into the brig of the ship he is on, accused of killing his only friend, jumping back to certain moments in his life, like the first time he bought a bottle of alcohol, the time(s) he lost one of his siblings(it was the 1800s, chances of living to an old age was rather miniscule), first time he met Johnson and his subsequent travels and experiences with him.


McGlue as a character is a loathsome creature, not caring for anything (except for Johnson in some degree and for when he gets his next drink). He belittles everyone around him, he constantly refers to the cabin boy as fag. He hates women with a passion, the disgust he feels when he sees the soft skin of a woman is almost palpable. But he is also pitiful, his alcoholism, the fact he has no one truly close to him in life and the way he is always asking where Johnson is (Even though Johnson is very much dead .


His life almost seems like an exercise in futility, the only thing he goes from and to is a bottle of alcohol, to drink it and then eventually drink some more. His alcoholism is both a disease and an escape from reality. His existence is riddled with misogyny, self-hate and self-loathing. His decent to oblivion though is beautifully written, in a dreamy surreal fashion, where McGlue cannot be certain all the people he sees are real or just a figment of his broken mind.


I have been reading a lot of reviews of this book on various sites, and a common comment is that this is a dark and filthy book, I would disagree with that(have read darker and filthier), no, the writing feels almost a bit hopeful, well that’s just my experience of the novella.

Even though this is a novella is a short read, it really packs a punch, it will linger with you long after you have read it.


This novella really puts me in the mood for more of Ottessa Moshfegh’s writing: I am eyeing up the novel “My Year of Rest and Relaxation”. And judging by some of my friends’ comments about the book, I might be in for a good read!


Notes on book:

Format: Paperback

Genre: Historical/Literary fiction.

Page number: 122

Publisher: Flame vintage

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