A review by harm
My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh

challenging dark slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


 After finishing My Year of Rest and Relaxation, I took some time to think about whether I liked it, or whether I just wanted to like it based on what others had told me.

Why do we read? If we read for enjoyment, this book is not worth our time. Getting through the pages upon pages of mostly aimless narrative was a hard slog with minimal pay-off and a vaguely insulting ending. If we read to learn and to feel, this is still not the book for us. Our beautiful, privileged narrator does not bring anything particularly new, thought-provoking or touching to our attention over her year of wilful dissociation and refusal of help.

As I read My Year of Rest and Relaxation, I found myself growing more and more despondent. At a stretch, I could say that in some ways my mood during this read mirrored the narrator's. Was this Moshfegh's design, to construct an example of "life imitates art" by dragging her readers into a sleep-like state? Or was this book truly just an unpleasant experience?

At the end of the day, I read for enjoyment and I did not enjoy this book. Am I missing something? 

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