‘My Year of Rest and Relaxation’ by Ottessa Moshfegh – Sleeping for a Year

 

‘My Year of Rest and Relaxation’ by Ottessa Moshfegh (2018) – 289 pages

Ottessa Moshfegh. I can’t imagine any writer voluntarily choosing this name as their pseudonym, but I also can’t imagine this being someone’s real name either. I keep trying to unscramble the letters ‘O t t e s s a   M o s h f e g h’ to come up with the real author’s name.

But Ottessa sure can write. Formerly I called her the Queen of Dirty Realism. Perhaps a more fitting name is the Queen of Ugly Realism. Not that her characters are ugly, far from it. It is just their behavior that is ugly. After our nameless young woman narrator loses her job at a realistic but ridiculous modern art gallery, all she wants to do is sleep. Anyone who can have their main character sleep for a year and still keep the story moving and interesting has got to be a good writer. Of course our nameless heroine does lots of subliminal activities while she is asleep.

Sleep walking, sleep talking, sleep-online-chatting, sleepeating, that was to be expected, especially on Ambien. I’d already done a fair amount of sleep-shopping on the computer and at the bodega. I’d sleep-ordered Chinese delivery. I’d sleepsmoked. I’d sleeptexted and sleeptelephoned. This was nothing new.”

Her psychiatrist the lady Dr. Tuttle prescribes nearly every kind of downer drug and rest medication there is to help our girl sleep, and the ones she doesn’t prescribe she hands out as free samples. Our girl winds up taking one drug called Infermiterol which knocks her out for two days straight but causes her to do a lot of crazy things in her sleep.

Our girl’s best friend Reva comes over once in a while and tries real hard mostly unsuccessfully to cheer our girl up and get her to go out and about. Our girl nearly always snubs Reva and has only contempt for her best friend’s efforts to be friends and to interfere with her sleep.

This novel captures our girl’s darkly comic mood and is filled with caustic black humor. It could have been a tragic story of a young woman withdrawing from the world, but here it is played for mostly laughs. Despite our heroine’s depressive attitude, the humor here keeps us reading.

 

Grade :    B

 

7 responses to this post.

  1. There’s only one thing that makes me think I might like this book, and that’s that you liked it!
    Because it sounds awful!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi Lisa,
      I take it you are not much taken by novels that are mainly Attitude. You probably should pass on ‘My Year of Rest and Relaxation’, but I expect you will be hearing more about Ottessa Moshfegh in the future. I guess she is of Croatian background, so she may have come by her odd name naturally.

      Like

      Reply

  2. I have this on my list. I read Eileen from this author and it made my best of year list.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi Guy,
      ‘Eileen’ was a strong start for Ottessa Moshfegh, ‘My Year of Rest and Relaxation’ is certainly well-written but in my opinion does not quite soar to the heights of ‘Eileen’.

      Like

      Reply

  3. I loved Eileen and have started this one but haven’t been grabbed by it yet. It’s so very knowing. Still, it has potential so I’ll keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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