My Year of Rest and Relaxation

The details:

Title: My Year of Rest and Relaxation
Author: Ottessa Moshfegh
Genre: (Drug-induced) Psychological Fiction
Pub date: July 10, 2018
Read if you liked: How to Murdered Your Life, drugs or reading about drugs, NYC novels.

Morgan’s Thoughts:

This book is a wild roller coaster and, boy, was I along for the ride.  The first few pages revealed themselves to be much funnier than I would have anticipated possible in a book with this description.  In short, it is a story about a young woman in New York City who decides to put herself as far
as possible into a drug-induced coma for an entire year.  She wakes up every few days to examine the havoc she has wreaked in her sleep.  Despite the black hole she spins into, Moshfegh’s writing is overwhelmingly humorous.

She sucked me in.  As the prescriptions increased in quantity and intensity, so did my anxiety while reading the book, but I couldn’t put it down.  I was hooked.  

In some ways, I feel this is my Catcher in the Rye.  I never liked that book – I couldn’t get over Holden Caulfield’s apathetic attitude towards everything that surrounded him.  In My Year of Rest and Relaxation, our unnamed narrator at the very least owns up to her apathy.  She quickly admits how little she cares about everything in her life. And she takes matters into her own hands to proactively separate herself from everything around her.  I’d highly recommend this book.

Interested in My Year of Rest and Relaxation?

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Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)

A shocking and strangely tender novel about a young woman’s efforts to duck 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 medicine she prescribes

Our narrator has many of the advantages in 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 the rest of her needs, by her inheritance.  But there is a vacuum at the heart of things, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents while she was in college, or the miserable way her Wall Street sometime-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?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a powerful answer to that very question.  Through the story of a year spent by a young woman under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs prescribed to heal people from alienation and existential ennui, Moshfegh shows us how reasonable, even necessary, that alienation sometimes is.  Tender and blackly funny, merciless and compassionate, it is a showcase for the gifts and the rewards of one of our major writers working at the height of her power.

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