My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa MoshfeghA shocking, hilarious and strangely tender novel about a young woman’s experiment in narcotic hibernation, aided and abetted by one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature. Our narrator has many of the advantages of life, on the surface. Young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, she lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like everything else, by her inheritance. But there is a vacuum at the heart of things, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents in college, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her alleged best friend. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?
This story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs, designed to heal us from our alienation from this world, shows us how reasonable, even necessary, that alienation sometimes is. Blackly funny, both merciless and compassionate – dangling its legs over the ledge of 9/11 – this novel is a showcase for the gifts of one of America’s major young writers working at the height of her powers.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh – caustic and acute
Blankness is her factory setting. I kept waiting for her to grab an ax and start splitting heads. The sentences will be snipped as if the writer has an extra row of teeth. That volume, dense with misfits and often comically poisonous thoughts that act as coagulants, read as if the author were playing many games of blitz chess at once. Like Oblomov in the Russian novel, she does not want to be awake much. She begins to wonder, as do freelance writers and blue-state voters: Why climb out of bed at all? Best to remain narcotized and between the Zen warp and weft of high thread-count sheets.
W hen the US author Ottessa Moshfegh was shortlisted for the Booker prize with Eileen , a slow-burn psycho-noir narrated by an unloved prison clerk, she let slip that she wrote the book with help from a guide called The Day Novel — a calculated lunge for mainstream success following McGlue , her lauded but commercially disappointing debut set among sailors in 19th-century Zanzibar. Potentially a Ratner moment she later said it ruined her chances of winning , the admission stoked the renegade aura of a writer who divides the critics. Taking place in New York over a period of 15 months from mid-June , it follows a twentysomething art history graduate who, after the death of her parents, quits her job at a chi-chi gallery to do little but get bombed on sedatives in a bid to achieve round-the-clock sleep, surfacing now and then only to binge-watch Whoopi Goldberg vehicles and order lingerie online.
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My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a non-negotiable in your holiday carry-on this summer' Vogue. Our narrator has many of the advantages of life: Young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, she lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like everything else, by her inheritance. And legitimately laugh-out-loud funny. Ottessa Moshfegh is sharp, savage and hilarious. Ottessa Moshfegh is a fiction writer from Boston. She was awarded the Plimpton Prize for her stories in The Paris Review and granted a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her first book, the novella, McGlue, was recently published by Vintage.