Followers of Molly Young’s writing style are probably big fans of literary fiction and clever wordplay. She is an astute observer and has a way of injecting a quippy, magical, and precocious child-like commentary on everyday moments with her pleasantly unexpected word choices. A conceptualizing punster, Molly works in the Creative department at Warby Parker full-time, yet still manages to be a frequent contributing writer to magazines like New York, GQ, ELLE and “little sprinkles elsewhere” (I mean, just look at her roster). Below, Molly Young responds to our One Question! —JL
What one piece of writing has changed the way you think about your own work?
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin is a mystery that was published in 1979. It has all the qualities of my favorite books: it is short, it is funny, it is odd, it does not underestimate its readers—which, technically, are “young adults”, but the book is more complex than most regular novels and deals with subjects like death, race, disability, and the stock market, all of which feel adult-appropriate.
Most important, though: The Westing Game is genuinely unpredictable. Not a lot of writers manage to avert clichés as thoroughly as Raskin does, and on every level, too—from big (plot, character) to granular (sentence structure, words). You can read the book seven or eight times and still be thwarted.
Raskin made me realize that the best trick a writer can pull is to write something that goes down easily but sticks around in the mind.(Psst, other Molly Young recs can be found on her Reading List, as well!)