From one of our boldest, most celebrated new literary voices, a novel about a young woman's efforts to duck the ills of the world by embarking on an extended hibernation with the help of one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature and the battery of medicines she prescribes
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
At the center of Ottessa Moshfegh’s dark comedy is a troubled young woman who’s escaping her NYC existence—by going nowhere. Moshfegh’s heroine isn’t even given a name, but you get to know her remarkably well as she navigates her year of self-imposed hibernation and medication. What’s her deal? While she’s young and wealthy, her parents are dead (not a spoiler), her relationships are terrible, and her shrink is the actual worst. Through her character’s hazy eyes, Moshfegh captures the turn-of-the-millennium apathy that made “living the dream” a dubious achievement.
The latest from Booker finalist Moshfegh (following the story collection Homesick for Another World) is a captivating and disquieting novel about a woman's quest to sleep for a year. The unnamed narrator is in her 20s, lives alone on the Upper East Side, has plenty of money from her inheritance, and decides to hibernate with chemical assistance in the year 2000 in order to "drown out her thoughts" and avoid the world, since she "hate everyone and everything." Her only relationships are with the cashiers at her bodega, where she picks up meager supplies like coffee and animal crackers; her quack psychiatrist Dr. Tuttle, who dispenses pills like candy; and Trevor and Reva, her on-and-off boyfriend and college friend, respectively, neither of whom she likes much. For a while, the narrator's plan works: she takes "upwards of a dozen pills a day," watches movies on VHS, and willfully blanks out her life ("I was more of a somniac. A somnophile."). But when Dr. Tuttle's medication regimen intensifies and the narrator experiences strange, activity-filled blackouts from a drug called Infermiterol, she escalates her plan, with potentially fatal consequences. Though the novel drags a bit in the middle, leading up to the Infermiterol plan, it showcases Moshfegh's signature mix of provocation and dark humor. Following the narrator's dire trajectory is challenging but undeniably fascinating, likely to incite strong reactions and much discussion among readers.
I liked it
Maybe more because of the writing than the plot, but I did like it. Mostly because it felt very real. I feel like these characters exist IRL, which is why it’s sad. But also reassuring, since I’m nothing like them. Their friendship was depressing and I feel this is common. Basically, this is the opposite of what I want in life. So, if you look at it like that, it makes you feel better!
If you don’t like this, something is wrong with you
“It was boring”…”it was dark”… hello, it was REAL, beaches.
I really enjoyed it. I took off a star bc the ending felt a little rushed