Why did Otessa Moshfeg write a bad medieval fantasy novel? And again, this raises the question of whether it is possible to write a good medieval fantasy novel. Of course, there is also Tolkien. But there are others. The first chapter of George RR Martin’s “Game of the Throne” displays the following line: “‘Dire wolf was unleashed in this area after many years,'” said Huren, the horse’s owner. “I don’t like it.” A tremendous kitsch, this. But people love it. Martin’s books have sold millions. So there are Robert Jordan, Tad Williams, Raymond E. Feist and so on. But is another mass of cod loose in the area? I don’t like it.
On the other hand, when a genre becomes so popular, it gets the attention of ironists. That is, it attracts the attention of more reflexive or parody winding writers who are interested in what a particular genre is trying to say about something more serious than kitsch. theme.This may be one of the reasons Lap VonaOtessa Moshfeg’s fourth novel, takes place in a common medieval territory, and why it kicks off some of the medieval fantasy metaphors.
Seven years after a rich career, Moshfeg appears to be constantly shuffling modes and genres in pursuit of the themes of disgust, self-deception, greed, sadness, and self-love. Her first novel, Irene (2015) was essentially a Patricia Highsmith thriller. Her second, Year of my rest and relaxation (2018), riffing a novel by Bret Easton Ellis. Her third, Death of her hand (2020), Vladimir Nabokov and Agatha Christie were fused.and now Lap Vona: Medieval fantasy novel.
As I say, it’s pretty bad. It’s not uninteresting at all. The setting is no more medieval Europe than “Medieval Europe”. Place names are flashy (Iskria, Bordijn). The character name is an abbreviation for the association of a specific country (Marek, Klarek, Clod, Agata). Lap VonaThe miserable collection of the Abara family is dominated by the psychopathic feudal lord, Villiam. Marek, a boy with a disability, half-accidentally killed Villiam’s son Jacob. Villiam takes Marek to his mansion as his replacement son. Meanwhile, William caused an artificial drought. Lapbonians turn to cannibalism to survive. Following the drought, there will be a lot of rain. Misery is universal. Highlights of this highly violent book include rape, incest, blind horses, a man vomiting the little finger of a freshly eaten neighbor, and a bloated corpse.
Certain historical moments seem unintended, and in fact, anachronisms are skyrocketing. At some point, the villagers reflect that the birth of Christ was “hundreds of years ago,” while the characters are psychoanalytic, such as the theory of pathogenic illness (19th century) and denial. Have ideas like concepts (20th century) and “maybe this was his big romantic gesture” and say something like “anything”. Lapbonians may live in the Abara family and put bandits into livestock. But they are all as advanced as Americans in the 21st century.
This may be the point. Moshfeg may be carrying us. She knows that writing a medieval fantasy novel in 2022 is ridiculous. So she doesn’t really care. Instead, she writes a large, obvious and vicious parable about modern America, dressed in the best horse manure in the medieval fantasy genre. Villiam (who is a villain, do you think he is a so-called villain?) Lives an obscene and luxurious life with good manners.
Villiam is reminiscent of Donald Trump, but he may simply represent all the elite. Moshfeg may say: Our age is roughly neo-feudal, so let’s talk about it roughly. Lords, mansions, peasants, corrupt priests, apocalyptic inequality. That’s us! We are Lap Vona!
It is also possible Lap Vona Exists to appeal and discourage some of those young readers who made Year of my rest and relaxation Both hits and lifestyle accessories.Hard to imagine Lap Vona It appears in countless TikToks as a symbol of coolness. In other words, the novel’s moody, ironic, and badness may be a kind of derogatory career move designed to bring Moshfeg’s reputation back to the ambiguity of elitism.
Then again, I might meet her here on the way. Evil may be the point, but even if it unfolds in the wink it knows, evil is still evil.The basic problem is Lap Vona It’s not very fun to read. Prose is often ugly. “He had a sloth intestine, which gave his lullaby voice its round softness.” Come again, right? In one of the two-page sequences, “He had to torque his torso,” “The bucket smashed and broke,” “Agata was as good as dead, and a lot of tears. “Shedding”, that is, the rhyme dissonance is displayed.
Again, ugliness may be the point: this is a book about ugliness. And in Moshfeg’s hands, ugliness can be fascinating and even beautiful.This is what happens at Irene When Year of my rest and relaxation.. but, Lap VonaThe ugliness is ugly; the path to beauty is hampered by what feels like unprocessed authoritative anger, and by contempt that zooms right next to the character and instead attacks the reader. And I’m wondering why we’re reading so few novels I’m interested in giving us something to enjoy.
Fiction: Otessa Moshfeg’s Lap Vona
Jonathan Cape, 304 pages, hardcover € 19.50; ebook £ 9.99