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Ottessa Moshfegh Fangirled Out At Whoopi Goldberg’s House

Author Ottessa Moshfegh has defied the old warning, “never meet your heroes.” She wasn’t disappointed.

Those who’ve read Moshfegh’s second novel, 2018’s “My Year of Rest and Relaxation,” won’t have much trouble guessing who that hero is. Like her book’s unnamed protagonist, who spends a year fettered to her bed self-prescribing medication and binging films and TV, Moshfegh’s spiritual idol is Whoopi Goldberg, the subject of the novelist’s new profile for Garage.

Goldberg, as Moshfegh describes her, is a barrier-breaker who exists “at the intersection of so many difficult worlds [fashion, comedy, antique dishware]” and “outside of any mundane binary [between feminine and masculine].” She’s eclectic as she is original.

Noshing on chestnuts at Goldberg’s New Jersey home, Moshfegh noted the EGOT card-carrier blends the high and lowbrow, collecting troll dolls (“I love me a good troll,” quoth Whoopi), a Mao portrait by Warhol and a dozen place settings made for the King of Hanover in the 18th century — part of a book about table dressing she’s writing for Rizzoli. Her dining utensils also number a “potato chip spoon” as Goldberg self-identifies as a “potato chip whore.”

Even in her high fashion endeavors, which include a new collection called DUBGEE, Goldberg collapses the boundaries of haute couture, kitsch and even politics as capably as she’s evolved her career between dramatic turns in films like “The Color Purple,” a vast array of Hollywood comedies and network TV shows and over a decade on the panel of “The View.” She’s been a style icon through it all.

Another area where Goldberg dissolves rigid classifications is faith.

Moshfegh, whose father is a Jew from Iran, visited Goldberg in December and observed two mezuzahs adorning the multimedia star’s front door. But when she walked in she spied workers decorating the home for Christmas.

“You must really love Christmas. Aren’t you Jewish?” Moshfegh asked.

“There’s that, too,” Goldberg replied.

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.

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