My Year of Rest and Relaxation

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

A 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, l...

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Title:My Year of Rest and Relaxation
Author:Ottessa Moshfegh
Rating:
Edition Language:English

My Year of Rest and Relaxation Reviews

  • Lotte

    Pretty brutal and absolutely brilliant.

  • Robin

    Well, this one went down nice n' easy, like I imagine an Ambien would.

    ADMISSION: I'm a little bit in love with this author, this woman who is often maligned for being

    and writing about

    , for being

    relying solely on

    , and oh don't forget, she's just plain

    . All of which makes me say: "SO WHAT?"

    Ottessa Moshfegh does write about icky things people do, magnifies the cruel dark bits of life we would rather gloss over. If you ne

    Well, this one went down nice n' easy, like I imagine an Ambien would.

    ADMISSION: I'm a little bit in love with this author, this woman who is often maligned for being

    and writing about

    , for being

    relying solely on

    , and oh don't forget, she's just plain

    . All of which makes me say: "SO WHAT?"

    Ottessa Moshfegh does write about icky things people do, magnifies the cruel dark bits of life we would rather gloss over. If you need your literature to be overall pleasant and safe, clear of eye gunk and shit and pubic hair, I would give her a wide berth. And that's 100% okay - not every book is for every reader.

    But if you're willing to read something dark and dangerous, to laugh at wicked, sardonic humour, to listen to a pitiless, confrontational story, then you are in luck. Plus, that cover. Isn't it fierce?

    I felt at home when reading the words in this book. Life is hard! And sometimes many of us wish we could lay our head on the pillow and not wake up for a week or so, thereby avoiding the everyday struggle and banality. Our narrator is tired of her life. She wants to 'hibernate' for one year, and wake up a new person. Not literally a new person - technically she will be the same, but her hope is that she will awake with a brand new outlook. See, her parents died within a few months of each other, and losing them heightened the even more painful, everyday, life-long losses she endured in her family. So even though she's independently wealthy, beautiful and living in Manhattan in the year 2000, she'd rather close her eyes and pass the time in unconsciousness.

    She's got an envious, try-hard friend in Reva. She's got Dr. Tuttle, a horrid psychiatrist who enables her pill-popping to the extreme. (Both of these characters are morbidly hilarious.) And she has Trevor, an on-again-off-again relationship that is more abusive than anything else.

    Other than that, she's got her drugs, and a VCR with a bunch of Whoopi Goldberg movies.

    The pages slide by, in a drugged haze. There's some repetition here: lots of taking pills, watching 80's movies, feeling confused about what might have happened during a blackout, or feeling frustrated at the lack of efficacy of the current chemical cocktail. Never though, did my interest wane. This is a character study expertly rendered. I was watching a person on the very edge of the world, sitting right on the edge, exceptionally alone in her ennui, light as air in her earthly impact. She might just float away, and no one would notice. I understood that existential feeling. And I wanted to know if she would be 'alright'.

    Her drugged year ends just before 9/11, which is the most jarring wake-up call Moshfegh could summon.

    I recognised a few similarities to

    - both protagonists are 24 year old females, drowning in insufferable inner worlds. Both are stories of escape, are ice picks to the heart, are dark as can be. Both feature addiction and characters with image issues and eating disorders. This one, though, is funnier, and, c'mon, even features a paragraph on Mickey Rourke in

    .

    This book asks the question of whether we can ever really escape pain. And is anyone ever 'alright'? Probably not, because there's so little we can control. But, confronting life with whatever it brings is the way to live in this world, even if it's jumping off a building. That's where freedom is: being wide, wide awake.

  • Elyse Walters

    Audiobook...read by Julia Whelan

    Questions I had were:

    “Are there really psychiatrists this bad?”

    and who has friends like Reva?

    My biggest question of all:

    how would this funny ( ok, ‘tragic’-comic), but still laughable to me - fascinating fantasy- possibly end for our ‘girl-in-hibernation’? I was curious as hell.

    I enjoyed the journey to the end too - the dialogue- the absurdity!

    I’m thankful I never felt anxious or addicted to binge read this one. My breaks - were powerful. I was often still eng

    Audiobook...read by Julia Whelan

    Questions I had were:

    “Are there really psychiatrists this bad?”

    and who has friends like Reva?

    My biggest question of all:

    how would this funny ( ok, ‘tragic’-comic), but still laughable to me - fascinating fantasy- possibly end for our ‘girl-in-hibernation’? I was curious as hell.

    I enjoyed the journey to the end too - the dialogue- the absurdity!

    I’m thankful I never felt anxious or addicted to binge read this one. My breaks - were powerful. I was often still engaged thinking about the characters and their choices.

    I’d love to know what inspired Ottessa to write it.

    “How would a REAL - FULL-YEAR-TIME-OUT transform - heal- and empower me?

    Limited TV: (Whoopi Goldberg and Harrison Ford

    were favorites for our narrator) ...

    No social media - no crazy psychiatrist or friends like Reva coming over???

    A full year to REST??

    I could do without the drugs - thank you - but I’d get massages - and spend time in nature....

    It’s a great fantasy- a year off to rest and relax.

    I’d like to bring Paul with me though. 🙂

    Imagine .....NO MONEY CONCERNS - and a full year off the grid. How would you plan your year?

    I stretched-out my reading weeks with Ottessa’s book - unlike when I listened to “Eileen”...

    I liked ‘this’ book, too, just as much - they’re very different though. I didn’t feel the urgency to rush - in fact I held back - not because I didn’t enjoy it. I enjoyed it in small doses. Owning it allowed me the luxury to listen while taking as long as I wanted to finish it .....‘resting & relaxing’.

    Soaking in the warm pool while listening to this audiobook was decadent and definitely relaxing!!!!

    A full 5 stars from me....

    I’m clear it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea ... but in a strange way- it comforted me.

  • j e w e l s [Books Bejeweled]

    My repeated claim to love unlikable characters is put to the test in this darkly irreverent, strange fable. I’m sticking to my claim. I do love most of the unlikable people in

    . Humor goes a long way when writing unpleasant characters! The author is sophisticated and brilliant when it comes to injecting absurdly wry observations on both the glitter and the grime of New York City.

    Contrary to the lovely 18th century painting of a leisurely young w

    My repeated claim to love unlikable characters is put to the test in this darkly irreverent, strange fable. I’m sticking to my claim. I do love most of the unlikable people in

    . Humor goes a long way when writing unpleasant characters! The author is sophisticated and brilliant when it comes to injecting absurdly wry observations on both the glitter and the grime of New York City.

    Contrary to the lovely 18th century painting of a leisurely young woman gracing the cover, this novel is set in 2000 and 2001. Women have had “fainting spells” for centuries now and the remedy is usually a good lie-in. Sleep is restorative. Beautiful and necessary for good health. This is all our never-named protagonist wants in life. Sleep. Our Sleeping Beauty makes a conscious decision to slumber for one year.

    The combination of apathetic, glitzy beauty and horror is a prevalent theme in

    . The best comparative books I’ve come up with are:

    ,

    and a little bit

    What a combo, huh?

    The obvious timeline will lead you to the impending ending, you know we are headed for 9/11 territory. In a lesser writer’s hands, this would be off-putting and cliched. Moshfegh uses it to dazzling irony and, you better believe, I was stunned into a silent reflection that so few contemporary novels are able to achieve.

    Just reading about our never-named character craving sleep all the time, seduced my own mind and I could often hear my pillow calling my name while listening to this perfectly narrated audiobook

    That’s not to imply the book is in any way boring, many parts are unquestionably disturbing. Our girl secures the worst shrink in history and is given pharmaceuticals by the handfuls. She has some of the most sickening, vulgar nightmares which are described in horrifying detail.

    She endures the nightmares and blackouts as the preferred alternative to her awakened existence. What is she hiding from? Why why why? You will get the answers in this dreamily paced, viciously witty story. You may not like the answers, but Moshfegh doesn't care. She is the one simply holding the mirror.

    Just like the main character, the novel is vacuous, yet complicated. Blank, yet layered. A spectacularly detached anti-drama. I really love it, but it may not be your cup of tea.

    💗

  • Samantha Colwell

    Review from

    Someone standing in line with Otessa Moshfegh at a Starbucks must have said aloud “I’m not sure there’s a novel that sufficiently embraces apathy brought about by woeful depression,” and Otessa said, “Hold my latte.” If that’s not a factual depiction of how this novel was conceived, then my new favorite author Ms. Moshfegh herself can come correct me. I wouldn’t mind.

    is a unique twist on the classic metamorphosis tale. Written to tak

    Review from

    Someone standing in line with Otessa Moshfegh at a Starbucks must have said aloud “I’m not sure there’s a novel that sufficiently embraces apathy brought about by woeful depression,” and Otessa said, “Hold my latte.” If that’s not a factual depiction of how this novel was conceived, then my new favorite author Ms. Moshfegh herself can come correct me. I wouldn’t mind.

    is a unique twist on the classic metamorphosis tale. Written to take place in the year 2000-2001, it’s a novel based heavily in our transition from 1990’s affluence and innocence and relative ease, into the early 2000’s height of terrorism and anxiety. Our narrator, nameless, lifeless, thin, beautiful, rich, orphaned, plans on spending a year in hibernation to sleep away her emotions, wrapped up in a cocoon of colorful pharmaceutical helpers. She finds herself a quack psychiatrist, Dr. Tuttle (hilariously rife with terrible advice), to prescribe her every sleep aid on the market. She takes her apathy in extreme doses, a perfect prescription for a privileged white female in the midst of a foggy depression. Our narrator is as completely disinterested with herself as she is in the rest of the world, which impresses me in a way I can’t put my finger on. I’ve rarely come across a character in literary fiction so uninterested in themselves.

    Juxtaposed with our narrator is her best friend from college, the sweet and try-hard Reva. Desperate to fit in, bulimic, chasing trends and having affairs with bosses, Reva is the stereotypical antithesis to our apathetic heroine. She issues Oprah-book-club axioms and sophomoric attempts at psychoanalysis, trying to establish a connection with our narrator, to no avail. In the end, her frantic running around attempting to change herself is just as ineffectual as the narrator’s standing still.

    The plot, or lack thereof, rides a strange dream-like quality of repetition and haziness. Our narrator begins to black out and do things without her waking knowledge; she throws parties, goes on shopping binges, duct tapes her phone to odd places, harasses her old boyfriends, etc. Her black outs last for days and leave her totally bemused as to what she’s done. In a particularly active black out, she befriends an artist named Ping Xi who finds her mission fascinating and wants to use her as a muse. Our narrator only wants to sleep. Her observation of the outside world, and everyone dialed into it, is scathing.

    I’ll hold off describing our narrator’s estranged relationship with her emotionally distant father and her cold, cruel mother. It becomes a pivotal point driving her addiction to avoidance. She does eventually emerge from her chrysalis of sleep, but the novel’s ending leaves much to be desired. It’s bittersweet—anticlimactic and effective, all at once. Just like this whole novel.

    “Education is directly proportional to anxiety.”

    “This was how I knew the sleep was having an effect: I was growing less and less attached to life. If I kept going, I thought, I’d disappear completely, then reappear in some new form. This was my hope. This was my dream.”

    “I felt myself float up and away, higher and higher into the ether until my body was just an anecdote, a symbol, a portrait hanging in another world.”

    “But these painters of fruit thought only of their own mortality, as though the beauty of their work would somehow soothe their fear of death. There they all were, hanging feckless and candid and meaningless, paintings of things, objects, the paintings themselves just things, objects, withering toward their own inevitable demise.”

  • PorshaJo

    Rating 4.5 stars

    I was a fan of Ottessa Moshfegh after reading her book Eileen. I really enjoyed the read and could not wait for more from this author. But her next book came out and to be honest, I didn't like it. In fact, I didn't finish it. (Why - see my #3 reason below) So when I saw she had a new book coming out, I was excited but a bit worried. Would the 'third times the charm' fate indicate if I would read more of her books or just say she's not for me. I'm so happy to say I really enjoyed

    Rating 4.5 stars

    I was a fan of Ottessa Moshfegh after reading her book Eileen. I really enjoyed the read and could not wait for more from this author. But her next book came out and to be honest, I didn't like it. In fact, I didn't finish it. (Why - see my #3 reason below) So when I saw she had a new book coming out, I was excited but a bit worried. Would the 'third times the charm' fate indicate if I would read more of her books or just say she's not for me. I'm so happy to say I really enjoyed...odd choice of words considering the subject matter....this read and can't wait for her next book.

    My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a hard one to talk about in a review. It's about an unnamed narrator telling her story of taking a year off from life to sleep. She's thin, blonde, pretty and seems to have it all. She lives in a great apartment in NYC and works in a fab art gallery, eh...some of the exhibits though are a bit out there. But she is utterly depressed. She doesn't come out and say that, but just because from the outside it looks like she has it all, it really isn't the case. She grew up with very cold, unloving parents who didn't even seem to love one another. Her mother had a pill popping and drinking problem and her father seemed to be doing his own thing. Both died within a short period of time of one another when she first entered college. This left her with a sizable amount of inheritance that she lived off. She has the worst boyfriend...I mean THE WORST. Despite having the 'looks' and glamour she has incredibly low self esteem. She just wants to get away from life and people....so she finds the WORLDS WORST psychiatrist. How this woman actually got her degree is incredible. But she gives her samples and scripts for every drug imaginable. Our narrator lies to the doc, making up crazy stories of her dreams. Indicating that she can't sleep. And any 'issue' she tells the doc, the doc says basically 'I can give you something for that'. So she lives in the dreamlike, drug induced coma for a year. Often coming up for air, or stale coffee, and sometimes awaking from what appeared to be a blackout after days of shopping and partying. The lengths that she goes to to sleep, get her pills, keep herself from calling her horrible ex-boyfriend and more. To avoid people, avoid being awake, avoid her "friend" who has her own issues. To say the least, it's quite the awakening in the end. It's also a look (at least I thought) about our mental health care system or lack of it. How this woman took so many drugs and no one questioned it. But it probably is the case where psychiatrists like this do exist and people truly do live off meds and in these drug like states. Just to escape the realities of life. (/rant off)

    One thing that I really liked about the authors book Eileen was I felt in was an in-depth character study about one sad soul. Not much happens in that story but I was so engrossed in Eileen and what she does, I could not stop reading. And that's exactly how I felt about this one too. A true in-depth character study of one person and their transformation. Not much happens, but I just love those stories where you really get to know a character. If you liked Eileen, you will like this one too. So why only 4.5 stars? 1) I'm stingy 2)I usually award 5 stars for books I plan to re-read and not sure I would for this one. *Maybe* someday if the mood strikes me. 3) Sometimes the story can be a bit graphic (same for Eileen) and probably makes me squirm a bit. Yeah, I'm a weirdo.

    I do have to say I won this book (yeah) via a GR giveaway. This however, did not influence my review of this book. Many thanks to Penguin, Ottessa Moshfegh, and GR Giveaways for my copy of this book. Due to be released July 10th! Now, what I'm most excited about is that I bought a ticket to see the author speak about this book coming up. I can't wait and it might just be one of those talks where I stand in line to chat with the author. I'm sure I'll ask what she's writing now....as I can't wait to see what she gives us next. I can honestly say, I'm a big fan of your work!

  • Meredith B.  (readingwithmere)

    This was my first Otessa Moshfegh novel and it lived up to the hype. The cover threw me off as it almost has a historical fiction look to it but I will tell you that this is

    anywhere near historical fic

    This was my first Otessa Moshfegh novel and it lived up to the hype. The cover threw me off as it almost has a historical fiction look to it but I will tell you that this is

    anywhere near historical fiction.

    This is a story about a young twenty something, who I just realized never reveals her name as she's the narrator of this book - interesting choice by the author, who has everything and at the same time feels like she has nothing. She lives on the upper east side of Manhattan paid by her inheritance, but her parents are dead. She had a somewhat serious relationship with a guy on wall street but he dumped her for various reasons. She had a decent paying job but then got fired for being lazy. For every positive there's a negative and vice versa.

    This really is a story about a year of rest but not so much relaxation. The narrator starts to go to the worst psychiatrist that you could ever imagine and she completely over prescribes her medication but this is what the narrator wants. She wants her year of rest and relaxation to be just that - nothing but being blacked out and resting. Frankly, I have no idea how she didn't overdose, I guess her body was able to withstand 5-6 different kinds of drugs a day. The narrator takes us on this journey of her year where she has crazy therapy appointments just to get drugs, tries to get her ex back by threatening her life on the phone, pushing her "best friend" Reva away and ultimately just gliding through the year to restart.

    This is going to be hard to explain if you haven't read this book but

    Her and I are complete opposites personality wise but throughout the story I was finding myself saying I can't relate but at the same time in a weird way I can relate to this. I think her end goal is the same as many of us:

    Did she take it to the extreme? Yes, but everyone has their own journey and this was hers.

    I took some time to really think about this book while I was reading it and it helped reading it in small bits each night. Although there are some tough situations in this book, I felt the author did a good job getting me to understand the meanings behind what the narrator did. Yes, maybe she blacked out because of pills but I took that as sometimes we try to "black out" our feelings so that we can start over again.

    Maybe I'm making this more complex than it's supposed to be but this is what I got out of the book and overall I really enjoyed it! It is a work of fiction although I could see how some people may think it is non-fiction. I did chuckle a few times as well. Overall a solid read and I would recommend.

  • Navidad Thelamour

    Whew! I had a surprising reaction to this novel. Ottessa Moshfegh’s

    managed to catch me off guard and by surprise. Probably because – funny story – ironically, this book is about a character who does what I

    I’d like to do: have the ability to put my life on pause for just a few days to rest, to think, to recharge. Then press a magic button and the world resumes spinning, without me having lost a single second of my life. Wouldn’t that be wonderful! Well, here’s that idea with a twist: Little Miss Nameless Protagonist here does this for an entire year (while strung out on a myriad of different high-level drugs, all while juggling her semi-unwanted friendship with her best friend and her feelings about the death of her parents and the reality of her shitty boyfriend – really, he’s not even that). Set in the year 2000, our narrator decides to hibernate through a year of her life in an attempt to be a new person on the other side of that time. So, with the help of a zany and negligible psychiatrist who’s first and only line of doctoring is to pull out her prescription pad, our narrator dives deeper and deeper into the world of prescription drugs—and the psychological effects of them—in her quest to sleep away a year of her life.

    Jacques Louis David’s neoclassical painting has been used as the cover, a reference to our protagonist’s “culture,” of which she is so proud and self-important, and her Art History background in college and before she quit the workforce. It’s a nice touch, offering layers of other meanings to this book. Within these pages you’ll find a slew of wholly unlikeable characters – well, unlikeable by the arbitrary standards we tend to think of as what makes a “nice” or “good” person. You won’t find those people here. Instead you’ll find the nameless narrator who knows she’s gorgeous and privileged and secretly loves the fact that her (bulimic, needy, whiny, having an intra-office affair with a married guy) best friend, Reva, is jealous of her. You’ll find the WASP mother of the nameless protagonist who can’t be bothered to mother but instead calls in the nanny and drinks herself to death in the end. The

    who made his claim to fame by ejaculating on a blank canvas in various colors. And we shan’t forget the “boyfriend” who uses our protagonist for quick sexual trysts that work out to only his benefit and then shuns her for weeks or months until he’s ready for another one. She has become semi-dependent on him and this cycle of abuse, even as she hopes that it will one day stop and that he’ll choose her. Their relationship is twisted and not at all the storybook love affair you’re used to:

    I hear Moshfegh is a fan of writing about these sorts of characters – characters who need a chaser or two before they’ll go down our throats smoothly. This was my first foray into her works, and I don’t mind that. In fact, that quality is what drew me deeper into this novel once I opened the first page. Moshfegh’s

    doesn’t shy away from the murk and unpleasantness – really, downright offensiveness – inside of us all, that we’re all capable of. In fact, her characters here seem to revel in the way their ickiness makes them better than other people while simultaneously wallowing in it until it nearly drowns them. It’s a bold and scary line for an author to walk, and to see the characters on, but that’s what we love about writers who can pull it off. We all need that shiny mirror of our own spiny imperfections staring back at us from time to time, don’t we?

    is dark and obnoxious, but I loved it. Because, isn’t life that way sometimes? I love characters with bite, maybe a pinch of cruelty in them –

    --I appreciate the layers of characters who aren’t bow-tied in shiny pink ribbons of perfection, happy and grinning stupidly with their perfect teeth and empty heads. I like a character who is…shall I say, more like a real person, imperfections and all. Honestly, I felt like this book was WASPy done well – and I don’t think I’ve ever

    . Even as she stood at the edge of reality, possibly even the precipice of her life, I was able to forget that her feeling of ennui with her privilege

    me. I wanted to reach out my hand to her, hoping she’d be okay:

    But this novel’s ending is what sealed the deal for me, culminating with 9/11 shortly after our protagonist wakes from her year of sleep. The towers come down, someone she knows dies, and maybe – just maybe – that last line of the novel shows that our protagonist has finally found her humanity. I highly recommend this book to readers who like their characters straight with no chaser--to readers who don't shy away from some of the darker hues of humanity. If you're uncomfortable with that notion, definitely stay away! I was glued to this novel from start to finish, and that resonating ending easily solidified the strong 4 stars I’m offering up. ****

    I received an advance-read copy of this book from the publisher, Penguin, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Tatiana

    Listening to this book was like watching

    .

    Occasionally funny and occasionally insightful in a limited WASP-y kind of way, but mostly ridiculous, privileged, pointless, and, finally, thin.

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