If you want to read something unusual then pick up My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. I bought this novel completely blind, as is so often the way, tempted by a clever cover. I’d seen it in the UK over the summer, but when I visited my local bookstore in the fall, there is was too. A transatlantic success, I thought, not realizing just how strange a read it would be.
A long while ago I had tried to read Eileen by Moshfegh. I use the word ‘tried’ deliberately as I remember liking the style of writing but somehow failing to push through. At points I found this story near to suffering the same fate and yet I managed to keep going, all the while thinking, surely this can’t be what the whole book is about? Surely all this foreshadowing is going to lead into something else?
The unnamed narrator of the story is based in New York City. Disillusioned with life she uses prescription medication to try to sleep her life away in a concerted effort to reboot her system. She has the worst psychiatrist in the history of the world, although not implausibly so. In fact, she’s just close enough to stories you’ve heard to make her lackadaisical prescribing of dangerous medications believable. Our narrator has a friend, Reva and an ex boyfriend, both of whom are decidedly lacking, as is she herself.
Truly this is one of the strangest books I’ve read in a long time. I can’t say that I liked it, just that it was odd, but equally the pages seemed to vanish without any real effort on my part. In itself it wasn’t dreamlike, just a little blank and then there’s the ending. Oh how I want to discuss the ending with someone! So sudden and abrupt and yet, thought provoking too. What more can I say, except read it and really, you’ll lose yourself.