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Two of the best books of the summer are pure fantasy, but not exactly in the way of “summer reads” we’ve come to expect: fluffy and sunny and fun.
However, it’s fitting that both Melissa Broder’s The Pisces and Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation have been published during a season when readers are typically looking for escapism.
It is while dog-sitting for her sister in Venice Beach that she meets a handsome merman on a jetty and gets caught up in the idea of creating a fulfilling life for herself by having sex with a fish.Unlikable, irredeemable female narrators have long been underrepresented in mainstream fiction, yet Moshfegh and Broder do fall into a lineage of women authors like Kathy Acker and Chris Kraus who have written about difficult, transgressive women.The publishing outfit Emily Books has also spent the last seven years working hard to bring an entire catalog of fiction and nonfiction authors who write about about similarly difficult women to a general audience.The authors of both novels have written extensively about debasement and despair and the trouble with living in a human body.
Melissa Broder is a poet and Twitter goddess, best known for her account turned essay collection, So Sad Today, which tackles mental illness and addiction with more candor and humor than you might imagine.That freedom is only accessible via fantasy is further confirmation that women are far from free to simply call bullshit on the world of cheery self-improvement.