My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh // Book Review

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What is it about depressed, rich white women that automatically makes me rate a book five stars. Do I have some sort of vile fetish seeing wealthy people unhappy. Although, I have to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Nest. So maybe it isn’t about “rich people have problems too” but something else.

Say for instance, complex narratives about unlikeable women who manage to charm me anyways. The protagonist in this novel is the greatest antagonist to herself as she spirals into a life a seclusion. It begins with abandoning her appearance, watching more Whoopi Goldberg, and finding a doctor to prescribe all the drugs. Yet, is that really ground zero as the protagonist delves deeper into her life so far. She remarks on every aspect and regards it as unremarkable fodder resulting from a byproduct of being alive. Nothing truly matters as she examines the steps it took to come into her wealth, beauty, or relationships. These markers of success have a veneer of cynicism as she attributes her blonde hair and thinness as the magic words to grant access to this privileged lifestyle. Her friend-enemy Reva is always at her side to remind her that she earned nothing while Reva’s hard work falls short every time in comparison. Her parents tolerated her existence as obligatory in a facade of domesticated normality. Her sometimes boyfriend’s self proclaim misidentified sadism as another form of toxic masculinity.

It amounts to nothing and so she decides to take a break. A hibernation so to speak that will hopefully restore her energy the world has unforgivably stolen without replenishing. Armed with various drugs to knock her out and wake her up, she slowly drifts farther away from society. It’s a cycle of fulfilling basic human needs until she entirely refreshes anew.

Although the book can be tiresome and depressing, I found a lot of truth. People are fickle and irrational. We all indulge in thinking about disappearing whenever we may feel lost or hopeless. Sometimes people bounce back quicker while other times it doesn’t end so well. I see My Year of Rest and Relaxation as an anthem to the downtrodden. Yet, it’s not so pessimistic as the protagonist takes the gamble that if she wakes up, she will stay awake.

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Pretty basic. Were they even trying? The image is cropped nicely but I fail to see the correlation between the figure and the description of the protagonist in the story. The pink font would look better as a serif and not so bright. A muted pink or cream instead. It seems that the author’s name is more important so that justifies the hierarchy. Just out of curiosity here’s another alternative that I whipped up. It’s not perfect but I’m trying to make a point that there could have been further thought put into it. While the original cover screams blasé and contemporary A R T, it lacks intrigue. In fact, I thought that the title was more interesting and wondered why the cover looked as if it was designed in five minutes. This cover is the definition of “I don’t care” and “Because art” so maybe it’s fitting.

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