My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
I've wanted to say FUCK IT.
Throw myself down in bed and lay there for, I don't know. A YEAR?
This is the story of an unnamed woman who believes she is "the shit."
She went to Columbia and quit her job working at an art gallery that offers up insufferable work to its patrons. She is an orphan and a self-described Wasp. She doesn't speak of any friends besides Reva and Trevor, her on-again, off-again "boyfriend" who has some interesting ideas of his own.
She decides that she needs to avoid everything and takes pill after pill (and bottles of Dimetapp) in order to knock herself out. Her pharmacy is prescribed by her wacky, neck-brace wearing psychiatrist, Dr. Tuttle, who seems to never remember anything that the narrator tells her.
She decides to sleep for a year, with intermittent wakings. She keeps herself company with pizza and Whoopi Goldberg movies.
There is NO ONE in real life who could take this many pills and live, but live she does.
This was the perfect book for getting back into fiction. (I cannot remember the last fiction book I read before this one. V.C. Andrews in junior high school? j.k.)
I loved the narrator's black humor and appreciated how she expressed her disdain with everything and everyone she encounters. She's offensive, rude and downright nasty. I'm a happy person, but sometimes everyone fucking annoys me. Ya feel me?
There is an underlying sadness when she describes the deaths of her parents (6 months apart from each other) and she's THAT ONE person we all know. Perfect and beautiful, with a seemingly easy life, but who sucks as a person.
But, in this case, maybe that person is also funny. This book did a nice job of making you love and hate the characters at the same time.
The story takes place pre-9/11, but the problems of the world remain the same: mudslides, convenience store murders, problems in the Middle East. She is bothered by all of these things, but her best friend, Reva, is pre-occupied by more surface things: fancy clothes, being skinny, worrying about her married boyfriend. Their relationship is the centerpiece of this book.
In retrospect, I should've seen the ending coming.
But, I didn't.
It took me off guard and made me feel a little wobbly afterwards. I loved it.
At the start, I couldn't fathom where this book was going. I mean, how much fun is it to read a book about someone trying to sleep all the time? I have insomnia and thinking about getting MYSELF to sleep is boring.
I worried that I was getting myself into a book where we read about the protagonist staring at the ceiling, counting sheep, while she rues the day she was born.
But, no, this was not that book.
Quotes from My Year of Rest and Relaxation:
"Reva was a magnet for my angst. She sucked it right out of me. I was a Zen Buddhist monk when she was around. I was above fear, above desire, above worldly concerns in general. I could live in the now in her company. I had no past or present. No thoughts. I was too evolved for her jibber-jabber. And too cool. Reva would get angry impassioned, depressed, ecstatic. I wouldn't."
“Sleep felt productive. Something was getting sorted out. I knew in my heart—this was, perhaps, the only thing my heart knew back then—that when I'd slept enough, I'd be okay. I'd be renewed, reborn. I would be a whole new person, every one of my cells regenerated enough times that the old cells were just distant, foggy memories. My past life would be but a dream, and I could start over without regrets, bolstered by the bliss and serenity that I would have accumulated in my year of rest and relaxation.”
"Reva was an idiot, and therefore I could discount her pain, and with it, mine. Reva was like the pills I took. They turned everything, even hatred, even love, into fluff I could bat away. And that was exactly what I wanted--my emotions passing like headlights that shine softly through a window, sweep past me, illuminate something vaguely familiar, then fade and leave me in the dark again."
Would you tolerate a friendship with someone who appeared indifferent to you at every turn? Have YOU had a relationship like that?
If you click on the Amazon link and buy the book (do it!), I'll get some money thrown my way. Isn't that nice? (You won't be charged extra or anything.)