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We all love some offbeat characters. Infact, aren't we all unlikeable in some way or the other? But we try to calculate our moves, measure our speech. Ottessa Moshfegh captures this very well with our unnamed narrator being all weak and desperate before her on-off domineering boyfriend and malevolent and curt towards her 'best friend' Reva. My year of rest and relaxation is a story of a 26 year old woman who decides to take a year off.. 'life' basically and hibernate. She has it all planned out; a psychiatrist who would keep regularly supplying her pills, prepayment of bills and enough money in her bank account. Apart from her coffee trips to the bodega her human interactions would be limited to her psychiatrist and her unwelcomed friend. She would wake up to watch Whoopi Goldberg movies and fall asleep again consuming another set of pills.
You keep flipping the pages of this book as swiftly as that of a high fashion magazine; not because of the plot, infact there isn't any nail-biting plot but just repetitive acts of pill intakes by our narrator while ignoring Reva incessantly body shaming herself. But that is what is captivating about this book. Ottessa Moshfegh has hands down become one of my favourite writers because of the way she has captured the mental health issues of the narrator- while we as readers know about her ongoing collapse the narrator herself continues to be in denial and hopes that sleeping the year off would help her rejuvenate herself. "I felt myself float up and away, higher and higher into the ether until my body was just an anecdote, a symbol, a portrait hanging in another world". Poetic much? Daddy issues, psychoanalytical quotes, neoclassical art fetish, masochism, this novel has got it all. If I've convinced you enough to pick up this murky and more of a character study novel, make sure you have a glass of wine handy because Moshfegh writes without any inhibitions
After months for trying to get my hands on this book, I was finally able to buy it and consume it as quickly as I could. The writing is anything but the slow, relaxed life the protagonist aspires to achieve. We follow the protagonist, a socially privileged white woman living off her parents’ money in the months before 9/11. Moshfegh, as always, has entered into a very careful and detailed character sketch of a woman who wants nothing but a year of hibernation. Unfortunately, that’s how this year(2020) has been for most of us till now, we’re on the verge of six months completion of rest and relaxation sans hope. Coming back to the writing, I could feel the fast-pace, adventurous vibe of New York in the writing itself. I think I have taken to stories set in the hubbub of NYC; be it this one, or A Little Life, or The Catcher in the Rye. I think NYC shines out in their writings and you see the city living and breathing with its very own existence. The dark humour in this book is hilarious and I found myself laughing and giggling every now and then. To me, the novel was a satire on privilege; a white, middle-class privilege, in whose life apparently everything is perfect but the need to complain and seek exclusion, not caring about anything remotely seems full. Of course, it was a sad tale on mental illness and a mournful childhood history that has pushed a woman on the verge of a medical horror but the humour running through the story along with the juxtaposition of Reva’s character establishes it as an insightful satire. However much I liked this one, I have to admit that I liked Moshfegh’s ‘Eileen’ better. There was something amusing and refreshing about that book which is slightly amiss in this one, perhaps, if I read this before I would have felt otherwise. Having said that, I can’t wait for her latest release!
What an amazingly uplifting book. The book is so, so funny that it left me holding my face, with a cramp in my stomach & that's not all...I do have to admit there were many a time, I literally peed in my pants with all the laughing. Speaks with ease to different generations, that's the beauty of this book. I loved it and hope you do too!
I couldn’t put the book down as I was fascinated by the drug abusing beautiful blonde’s self destructive streak. It stirred up a myriad of emotions ranging from sympathy to disgust and sometimes even revulsion. The characters are a bit Hollywood-ish. The ending was written well even though one could predict it somewhere in the middle of the book
The main character was just about plausible enough for me to stick with this book until the end, although the repetitive, contrived, unpleasant and implausible nature of quite a lot of what was going on nearly had me giving up about a third of the way through. She was also basically quite hard to like or find sympathy for, and it was only because of her apparently mindless tolerance for such a horrible boyfriend, her attitude to her poor friend, her cold, addicted mother, and the fact she wanted to just check out of consciousness for a year meaning that she must be really miserable that squeezed a bit of affection for her out of me.
I found a kind of voyeuristic interest in all the (prescription) drugs she took but whilst I don't really know enough to judge, I couldn't help thinking that if she'd actually taken all that it would have made her a lot more ill and quite possibly led to a rather different ending (and yes I know some of the medication was fictitious but I'm not sure that makes it any better). As she also seemed depressed and traumatised by her life as a backdrop to her decision to have a year of R&R, it would have been much more interesting and relevant to have heard a bit more about this and would certainly have given some colour and dimension to the character.
I also thought her psychiatrist was thoroughly unlikely and the scenes between the two reminded me considerably of the much-better drawn patient/practitioner piece in Miranda July's The First Bad Man.
Nice cover and intriguing title, but doesn't live up to either. Not funny either really - I get what we were supposed to be laughing at, but tbh it was not my idea of a laugh, even a dark one.
I love Ottessa Moshfegh – I hope one day to meet her at a NYC bar and spend hours drinking in her company. Do you hear me, Universe?
So. "My Year of Rest and Relaxation". We are introduced to three ladies, who are presented to us solely for the sake of entertainment: the nameless main character, who God knows how is still alive if you take into account the rainbow of pharma she consumes 24/7, her beautiful friend Reva, a walking disaster and a thesaurus of quotes of the “help yourself” variety, silently suffering from bulimia, and Dr. Tuttle, a psychotherapist/shaman. All of them are multifaceted, beautiful and unique, not unlike the snowflakes. All possess a variety of problems, just dig a bit deeper. Each of them could be a marvelous heroine of a book in her own right. Love them!
If you think that the book about a rich if troublesome girl ("tall and thin and blond and pretty and young") going to sleep by way of narcotic hibernation is not your cup of tea – I urge you to reconsider. This is a great book. But man this book is so much more than just a story about the nameless sleeping beauty! It's scary stuff!
Moshfegh’s new book is another tough nut, which will not be liked by everyone (think about all the [metaphorically] broken teeth). But if you like black humor, sarcasm and satire – this is cool stuff. Passivity as a rebellion has never looked so enticing.
Grimly unrealistic. The heroine, Eztelle, takes copious quantities of Xanax and other benzos every day for a year, then stops altogether. If she'd done this in real life, she'd be dead from the seizures that come with cold turkeying off high doses of benzos. Instead, she is fine and has a 9/11 epiphany.
Eztelle isn't a sympathetic protagonist. She keeps reminding us of how beautiful she is every few pages. Just no.
I loved this in the beginning. It was one of those books that sucks you in so fast and furious, and kept up that momentum for a while, even when it’s just the protagonist trying to get her sleeping pills. It’s amusing, not out and out funny (I’m looking at the dr and the drug store employees that aren’t phased). But as another reviewer put it, it’s like Girls, where it has it’s moments but just really highlights white lady privilege- the very thing is maybe sets out to make fun of.
I think I might not have ‘gotten’ it and that ending was just meh. Especially as soon as her friend got promoted, I was like she’s going to die in 9/11.
Again, not sure I got it, but it doesn’t seem to be about anything. If you were to describe the plot, it would be woman wants to sleep for a year, woman takes pills to stay asleep for a year, the end.
To be fair, by the time it was £1.99 on the kindle, my expectations were high. So maybe it would have always been a strong ok book.
And despite saying all this, I found myself reaching for the kindle as much as possible and not noticing how far I was into it, because it sucks you up in it’s world.
Inspired by two fellow readers on Goodreads, I was encouraged to give Ottessa Moshfegh a try. As I had, “My Year of Rest and Relaxation,” lurking on my kindle, this seemed the obvious starting point.
The narrator of this novel is unnamed, blonde, beautiful, thin and has enough money to live without working. Having given up her job in a New York art gallery, she decides to live on the rent money from her parent’s house, go on unemployment and start a plan to hibernate for a year…
This is a difficult novel to review, as much of the ‘action’ revolves around the thoughts of our narrator. Her search for a therapist willing to dole out prescription drugs like sweeties, in order to aid her constant sleeping. The neediness of her friend, Reva, bulimic and having an affair with a married man. Her calls to Trevor, a past lover. Mostly, though, this is about her love affair with medication and the effects it has on her.
When she begins to venture out of her apartment while hardly conscious, have black outs and spend her money on items she cannot recall ordering, you are pulled into her dreamlike world. Only events, like the death of Reva’s mother, while resented as making her interact with the world, reveal some of her own history and force her outside the walls of her self-imposed house arrest. I was stunned by this novel and adored every page. I need to read more by the wonderful Ottessa Moshfegh and I am grateful that I was led to read her.