My Year of Rest and Relaxation

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Book - 2018
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"From one of our boldest, most celebrated new literary voices, a shocking and tender novel about a young woman's efforts to sustain a state of deep hibernation over the course of a year on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Our narrator should be happy, shouldn't she? She's young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn't just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. It's the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong? My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a powerful answer to that question. Through the story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs designed to heal our heroine from her alienation from this world, Moshfegh shows us how reasonable, even necessary, alienation can be. Both tender and blackly funny, merciless and compassionate, it is a showcase for the gifts of one of our major writers working at the height of her powers"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2018.
ISBN: 9780525522119
0525522115
Characteristics: 288 pages ; 22 cm

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b
becker
Jun 14, 2020

This is a crazy story but it addresses some pretty deep issues. I think it takes a talented author to pull this off. I was always on the verge of putting it down. On the surface, it's really not my thing but I kept thinking I would read just a bit further, and a bit further, and no one was more surprised than me when I got to the end. I really feel like the author was in complete control of my reading experience the whole time and I haven't had that happen very often. Crazy, crazy story!

CALS_Lee May 01, 2020

Moshfegh has written misanthropic fiction in which her wretched characters suffer deeply during the 1850s (McGlue), the 1950s (Eileen), the current day (Homesick for Another World), and now that nightmarish period of American meaninglessness between the end of the Cold War and 9/11, when all we really had anymore was peace and prosperity. The unnamed narrator of this novel is the least wretched so far in material terms - she's a wealthy heiress and beautiful as a supemodel - but that means little. She'll hold her own in existential ennui.

Her career in the arts world is a joke because the art world is a joke, completely colonized by capitalism (“Stacey Bloom had started a magazine called Kun(s)t about ‘women in the arts,’ mostly profiles of rich art-party girls who were starting their own fashion lines or opening galleries or nightclubs or starring in indie movies. Her father was the president of Citibank.”). Her parents were always cold to her and now they're both dead. She dislikes her only friend. She decides to use prescription medication to sleep most of a year away, hoping to emerge a changed person on the inside (but not the outside - "I was born into privilege," I told Ping Xi. "I am not going to squander that. I'm not a moron.").

Does it work? Moshfegh suggested that she might be prepared to believe in the possibility of transformation from miserableness to happiness in Eileen, as that character narrated her story decades afterwards the story's events from evidently a much better place. Here she seems ambivalent. The story ends on 9/11, with the image of a jumper falling to her death from the Towers: "I am overcome by awe, not because she looks like Reva, and I think it's her, almost exactly her, and not because Reva and I had been friends, or because I'll never see her again, but because she is beautiful. There she is, a human being, diving into the unknown, and she is wide awake."

9/11 as an awakening moment has been used a lot, of course, but usually it's meant in an active, improving way. Here it's referenced using the image of someone just becoming aware moments before plummeting to their death, so... pluses and minuses, I suppose.

j
jump8999
Mar 19, 2020

funny

b
BookGrind
Mar 13, 2020

Dark hilarious novel for dark ridiculous times. Ottessa Moshfegh more than any other writer I have read recently, is able to evoke the mood of our strange era. There are disgusting moments, as in Eileen, so if you only like bright pretty things and characters that never have a dark thought then this book is not for you.
Nothing much happens in the book, and the things that do are glossed over in a veil of apathy as the protagonist delves deeper into her depression and drug induced despair, but the author somehow makes it a riveting journey and a great characterful read.
I especially love the descriptions of the installations in the art gallery in - Chelsea (I think?) NYC. Anyone who has wandered through the ridiculous high-concept garbage that passes for art in those galleries will no doubt howl with laughter. I did.
I cannot wait for more books by Ottessa Moshfeg!

s
sarahstacki9
Oct 13, 2019

I ended up disappointed with the ending, however the book is a good read-- less for the story line and more for the author's uncensored and intriguing writing style.

KCLSQueennie Oct 03, 2019

Not for the faint-hearted.

k
kate_se
Sep 28, 2019

Strangely compelling read. Something about Moshfegh's writing felt propulsive and kept me hooked as the story shifted between dreams and reality. An especially dark story that I would find difficult to read again, but I doubt I'll ever forget this book.

ArapahoeAshleyR Sep 17, 2019

I read this book in 2 days yet have no idea how I feel about it. It's dark, it's funny. Sickening in times. It made me love and hate NYC. Envy and pity wealthy people. I just...don't know.

b
bethgarza24
Jul 26, 2019

New & Noteworthy - March 2019

w
WoodneathReads
Jul 24, 2019

Do you enjoy cynical, sarcastic and just plain weird characters? This strange, compelling book is intriguing and hilarious- Otessa Moshfegh writes the weirdest characters that you feel compelled to know more about.

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jmath_
Apr 08, 2019

'Although I understood that he was foolish, I trusted his resolve. He wouldn't let me out of there. He was too conceited to fail to keep his word, and too ambitious to give up the opportunity to take advantage of my offer'.

-pg 266

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