I adore Ariel, of course, but I especially love The Bell Jar because it is a portal from fiction to poetry (and vice versa). I think of it as the origin of many of my favorite contemporary novels by poets: The Pisces by Melissa Broder, Loudermilk: Or, The Real Poet; Or, The Origin of the World by Lucy Ives, and Marilou is Everywhere by Sarah Elaine Smith.
Dear Ra in particular–I keep losing this book and finding it again but that makes sense because it is a sort of talisman where I keep all my ideas about what writing is: “a metatextuai tear in the metatextual fabric,” “a pay-phone,” a way of getting through to the other side and also believing there is another side. It’s my occult devotional.
Eileen possessed me–I mean I was actually physically compelled to read the first chapter aloud to myself. But all of Moshfegh’s novels are obsessive, enthralling studies in voice, genre, and affect.
Lispector is like a fraudulent medium tapping the bottom of the table. She seems to be doing magic when she’s actually doing something even harder: spiritualizing the mundane, everyday fact of existence.
Wharton copes with interiority, the cult of celebrity, consumer culture and fetishism, and the corrosive nature of aesthetic obsession in an almost therapeutic way. And no one does better names–Undine Spragg, Medora Manson, Newland Archer.
Candice Wuehle is the author of Fidelitoria: Fixed or Fluxed (11:11, 2021), Death Industrial Complex (Action Books, 2020) and BOUND (Inside the Castle Press, 2018) as well as several chapbooks. Her writing has appeared in Best American Experimental Writing 2020, Black Warrior Review, Tarpaulin Sky, The Volta, The Bennington Review, and The New Delta Review. She holds an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Kansas.