From an article in The New Yorker by Ariel Levy:

There was an unearthly quality to the atmosphere inside the Frieze New York art fair, like the air in a plane—still but pressurized, with an unsettling hum—when the fiction writer Ottessa Moshfegh visited to speak about her work one afternoon in May*. “I hate this fair already,” she said when she walked in, handing her ticket to a very tall, very pale man dressed entirely in black lace. Almost immediately, she was lost in the labyrinth of works for sale: Takashi Murakami’s lurid blond plastic milkmaids with long legs and erect nipples; the words “any messages?” spelled out in neon tubing. It was like an enactment of the world inhabited by the protagonist of Moshfegh’s forthcoming novel, “My Year of Rest and Relaxation,” who works at a gallery in Chelsea, amid objects like a quarter-million-dollar “pair of toy monkeys made using human pubic hair,” with camera penises poking out from their fur. “Did I do this?” Moshfegh said, only half kidding. She sometimes gets the sense that she has the power to conjure reality through her writing.

First is she talking to someone other than the man checking ticket? What I am trying to ask is in English when you see a text like this does it always simply mean that person for instance is talking to a previously mentioned person like ticket checker in this context? My main concern is who Ottessa talking to?

My second concern is does “I hate this fair already” mean I have always hated this fair or I just had a intuition and feeling today before going there that I would not like it?

1 Answer 1


It seems to me that Ottessa M. was probably speaking to the person who wrote the article that we are reading. I say this not because of any special clues hidden in the English words or usage of the text, but only because I think it would be unlikely for her to have that kind of conversation with the ticket taker. The reporter (author of the article) probably accompanied Ottessa to the art fair that day, spent the day talking with her, and then wrote this story about her for the New Yorker.

Other than the usual deductions you would make from events and descriptions in the narrative, I don't think English has any grammatical rules to use as signals to indicate who is being spoken to.

As to the meaning of "I hate this fair already", I can see why you might be confused.

MacMillan says the first two uses of "already" are:

  1. used for saying that something has happened before now or before another point in time

  2. used for saying that a situation has started to exist and still continues

Those meanings might imply a preexisting hatred from before going to the fair, or even that Ottessa "always hated this fair". However both of those meanings of "always" would require a past tense verb. "I hated this fair already (before I even got here)".

But Ottessa uses the present tense, "I hate this fair already." She means the third MacMillan usage:

  1. sooner than you were expecting

So she means, "I am surprised that now I hate this fair so soon (after arriving)."

Most likely she started hating it as soon as she experienced the unpleasantness that the author describes as "an unearthly quality to the atmosphere inside the Frieze New York art fair, like the air in a plane—still but pressurized, with an unsettling hum."

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