Book Review: My Year of Rest and Relaxation – Ottessa Moshfegh

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What a book to start the year with. I was attracted by the title and the cover of this books, which made me eventually grab it and read it. It was certainly different from what I assumed based on the cover.

Synopsis: Our narrator should be happy, shouldn’t she? She’s young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, 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 dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. 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 question. Through the story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs designed to heal our heroine from her alienation from this world, Moshfegh shows us how reasonable, even necessary, alienation can be. Both tender and blackly funny, merciless and compassionate, it is a showcase for the gifts of one of our major writers working at the height of her powers.

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Going into hibernation for a year. The only thing doing is sleeping. The story of this dangerous and reckless experiment was mind-opining, but also made me irritating. The characters in this books are so clueless of everyone around them. They only seem to care about themselves and their own life. Reva (best friend) doesn’t seem to care about the narrator’s situation and it doesn’t sound like Reva sees the mess and filth around the narrator. Trevor, the immensely selfish and derogatory ex-boyfriend of the narrator, who treats her like filth. Dr. Tuttle, the worst psychiatrist in the world, who gives out pills like candy and doesn’t have a slight doubt about any of the narrator’s stories.

The story itself was interesting in it’s subject. I felt curious about the whole hibernation idea and the effects of the different pills. Though a lot of aspects became repetitive. The endless intake of the drugs and the endless hearing about the effects and the gaps that were created by the drugs became boring. At one point I just hoped that she would finally get her live back together, as it would make de story interesting again. As far as she hibernates without any precautions in the beginnning, the last four months she decides to give everything up and start completely over after those four months.

The whole idea of hibernation for a complete year sounds insane to me, though the title of this book sounds amazing. My year of rest and relaxation. We don’t get a lot of the rest and relaxation I was expecting. In real life the story would be very different. The woman’s body wouldn’t be able to handle this, and I don’t believe it’s so easy to get off those pills in the end. She wouldn’t even be able to get those pills so easily to begin with. Though I do understand the whole idea of hibernating. The world is flying by so fast and nobody really looks at each other anymore. Everyone is busy with their own life and how they handle it. The story shows how easy it can be to completely back up into the shadows and disappear, and nobody would notice or care.

I ended up giving this book 4/5 stars. Quite some points made me sound annoyed and irritated by the book, but they made the book also good. In the end I feel like the book tells you to close yourself off from the world sometimes, to be reborn again and look at the world a little bit differently. Just don’t do it the way the narrator did in this book.

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