[Moshfegh] is adept at crafting dark, compelling female characters who violate the rules of femininity ... It’s a sly refusal of the imperative to self-care, the opposite of leaning in ... Moshfegh’s protagonist is an unlikely revolutionary ... [My Year of Rest and Relaxation] serves as a reminder that there is something to life outside of the economic exchange of time for money and money for goods, even if that unnamed thing is obscure and perplexing and just a bit monstrous—particularly in a woman. Literature may not have all the answers, but it can show us the power and allure of saying 'No.'
Because this is a novel by the superabundantly talented Moshfegh—she’s an American writer of Croatian and Iranian descent—we know in advance that it will be cool, strange, aloof and disciplined. The sentences will be snipped as if the writer has an extra row of teeth ... Moshfegh is an inspired literary witch doctor ... This is a strong book but one that doesn’t advance our sense of Moshfegh as a writer. Her sensibility, you feel, is like a jewel that has yet to find its most advantageous setting. One never quite feels anything is at stake ... Moshfegh writes with so much misanthropic aplomb, however, that she is always a deep pleasure to read. She has a sleepless eye and dispenses observations as if from a toxic eyedropper ... Though this novel is set nearly 20 years ago, it feels current. The thought of sleeping through this particular moment in the world’s history has appeal.
[My Year of Rest and Relaxation] is not a complicated book, by which I mean it’s not intricately plotted or densely populated. The story, strictly speaking, never leaves the unnamed narrator’s fascinating, twisted, candid, perceptive mind ... It’s really difficult to discuss the extraordinary mechanics of My Year of Rest and Relaxation ... There’s a birth, a rebirth, yes, and it’s a substantial epiphany. But there’s loss too, because important things are lost in time when time is the enemy and obliviousness is the weapon.
Ottessa Moshfegh is easily the most interesting contemporary American writer on the subject of being alive when being alive feels terrible. She has a freaky and pure way of accessing existential alienation, as if her mind were tapped directly into the sap of some gnarled, secret tree ... Watching Moshfegh turn her withering attention to the gleaming absurdities of pre-9/11 New York City, an environment where everyone except the narrator seems beset with delusional optimism, horrifically carefree, feels like eating bright, slick candy—candy that might also poison you ... There is something in this liberatory solipsism that feels akin to what is commonly peddled today as wellness. It also resembles a form of cognitive interaction induced by social media, which positions the user as the center of the universe and everything else—current events, other people’s feelings—as ephemeral, increasingly meaningless stimuli.
In flat, deadpan, unembellished prose recalling the cadences of Joan Didion and the clear-eyed candor of Mary Gaitskill, Moshfegh portrays the vacuous interior life (she has virtually no exterior life) of a narcissistic personality simultaneously self-loathing and self-displaying ... More engaging than Eileen, more varied in tone, and much funnier, My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a recycling of the materials of Eileen that tracks a disagreeable, self-absorbed young woman in her twenties through a cathartic experience that leaves her ostensibly altered and prepared for a new, freer life.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Moshfegh’s darkly comic and ultimately profound new novel, also concerns itself with a miserable woman in her mid-20s seeking 'great transformation' ... In My Year of Rest and Relaxation, the relationship between Reva and the narrator is reminiscent of Bergman’s 1966 film Persona, in which a stage actress suffers a breakdown and becomes mute. She’s tended to by Alma ... In Persona the two at first seemingly opposite women begin to meld...similarly, as Moshfegh’s novel progresses, Reva and the narrator, at first strikingly different, increasingly resemble each other ... Surfaces are important in My Year of Rest and Relaxation. The narrator recalls her mother, a vain and distracted bedroom drunk ... By the end of her self-imprisonment, a transformation does occur ... It’s her own desire to be an artist that has been reborn ... Moshfegh’s extraordinary prose soars as it captures her character’s re-engagement ... 'Step away,' a guard reprimands her when she gets too close to a painting. She does not step back. Instead, she puts her hand out and touches the frame of the painting. Then she places her whole palm on the surface of the canvas. The guard grips her shoulders, but after she explains that she got dizzy, the guard lets her go, and she is free.
She has a singular instinct for the jangled interiority of loners and outsiders, most of them women, and for their uncomfortable and often unpretty inhabitance of their bodies ... there is a great deal more layered compassion than there is boring transgression ... Moshfegh pushes it to a gleeful extreme ... The trudging banality of a character’s quest to sedate what is unbearable, and to come out the other side into some cleansed and emptied new reality: this, paradoxically, is the fun of this strange and obstinate narrative, and it is where it strikes its sharpest, clearest truth ... Along the way, there’s a lot of detail to enjoy ... Moshfegh writes brilliantly, and very funnily, of a certain kind of spoiled, affluent New Yorker ... This kind of simultaneously horrifying and devastating glimmer, a scoop direct from the places to which the human mind plummets in private, is what makes Moshfegh’s prose so arresting, so original ... This is a novel of immense and yet very ordinary human sadness. That is a lot to achieve.
Does sleep count as doing something? Can that trite phrase ‘rest and relaxation’ communicate something true? The tone of this...flickers between sincerity and insincerity. One of the things Moshfegh is interested in is irony: she both exploits it and questions its value ... My Year of Rest and Relaxation constantly eludes classification. It’s tempting to see satire ... But there’s a casually intimidating power to Moshfegh’s writing— the deadpan frankness and softly cutting sentences—that makes any comparison feel not quite right. My Year of Rest and Relaxation is written in multiple modes at once: comedy and tragedy and farce, blurring into one another, climbing on top of one another ... The narrator’s hibernation becomes a kind of artistic project, an unmaking and remaking of the self ... In place of the antic sarcasm of the beginning of the novel, she now speaks in anodyne clichés: ‘Pain is not the only touchstone for growth, I said to myself. My sleep had worked.’ Has it?
Moshfegh’s protagonist is brutally dreary, and the brutality of her dreariness is often very funny, but the book is really quite serious ... The book seems to anchor itself to “real” experiences of pain and to validate itself by their relevance (the death of the protagonist’s parents, for instance, or the looming attack). But it is mostly, almost by juxtaposition, about the realness of a more subtle and very private expression of pain, no matter the cause, no matter how seemingly trivial. That’s what kept me reading even as my cringing muscles grew sore: feeling in my screwed-up face, barked laughs, and watery eyes the translation of that private kind of pain into something I could share.
The ludicrous nature of it all won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I revelled in it ... For Moshfegh 9/11 is the moment where we all woke up, where the minutiae of life were deluged by externalities out of our control (not that they ever were). Sleep might be foremost in the mind of our narrator, but My Year of Rest and Relaxation ultimately recognises that we can’t avoid Trump or Brexit or the impending threat of climate change, that sleep is an indulgence we can no longer afford.
The found poetry of pharmaceutical names furnish the rare moments of charm in this book, whose writing is as dead-eyed and apathetic as its heroine, as though to provide a textbook example of the imitative fallacy. Ms. Moshfegh’s dubious trademark is frank descriptions of bodily excretions...but there’s too much maudlin pop psychology in this novel for it to be edgy or startling.
Moshfegh gives us with amazing narrative blankness—page after page, month by month, chapter upon chapter—the frictionless feeling of the depressive’s days unspooling, dissolving ... The answers given by My Year of Rest and Relaxation are ambiguous, perhaps because (as in life) it is unclear what would constitute a clear look at disaster in the first place. At least, that seems the implication of this comically enervated novel’s ending, which comes up fast to meet us after all the longueurs that have gone before.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation is her hyper-articulate account of this disturbing, ultimately moving 'self-preservational' project ... Much of the novel's action consists of popping pills — a buffet of more than two dozen name brand meds. This quickly gets tiresome, and more soporific to the reader than the narrator, but Moshfegh raises the stakes ... Moshfegh's sharp prose provides a strong contrast to her character's murky 'brain mist' ... Moshfegh knows how to spin perversity and provocation into fascination, and bleakness into surprising tenderness.
Throughout Moshfegh’s works, especially her short stories, her humor springs from irony and irreverence ... Among the secondary characters I’ve met in Moshfegh’s fictions, Reva strikes me as a masterful invention ... Some element of the novel’s philosophy arises from its epigram, a lyric from Joni Mitchell’s 'The Wolf That Lives in Lindsay' ... Mimicking the music, the novel’s first half has a loose, rambling, somnambulant feeling. Simultaneously, Moshfegh’s sentences are sharp and coherent. That combination forces readers to attune themselves to the narrator’s dark, howling somnia ... strange and captivating.
[Moshfegh] has near perfect pitch ... Moshfegh is also wickedly funny. If My Year’s plot lags a bit — reading about trying to sleep is about as interesting as trying to — the coruscating aperçus and ancillary characters never do ... Understandably, 9/11 become a major touchstone in American fiction. Lesser writers tend to pervert the moment into a horror-movie gimmick, all shock, no resonance. I groaned upon realizing the year and office locations but, in the hands of a substantial talent like Moshfegh, they work. The ending, the failing of so many contemporary novels, is splendid.
In Ottessa Moshfegh’s latest novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, she uses the optimism of new-millennium New York to explore isolation, cultural emptiness, and the complexity of female friendships in a biting and detailed way ... In Moshfegh’s no-bullshit approach, female friendship is scrutinized not to find genuine affection but to recognize how different personalities can embolden one’s ability to give into their emotional addictions ... Moshfegh is deliberate in the pacing of her exploration of the complicated friendships adult women can have, leading the novel to play out like Donald Antrim’s The Hundred Brothers in both its handling of relationships and its ability to sustain interest despite repetition and a small-scale approach to setting.
Determined to narcotize her pain and drug herself into oblivion, the narrator finds a psychiatrist in the phone book. Dr. Tuttle, a brilliant comic creation, dispenses unhinged bromides and a raft of prescriptions with shocking yet welcome alacrity ... Like Thoreau at Walden Pond or Bartleby preferring 'not to,' Moshfegh’s narrator is in flight from a world that has been too much with her. She mercilessly exposes the falseness of our representations, where identity is curated ... With her disastrously bad decisions, her lack of any conventional ambition, her misanthropy, our 'somnophile' narrator will be off-putting for many readers. But her bracing self-awareness, mordant humor, and flashes of vulnerability endear her to us. She’s appalling, hilarious, and, finally, wise. A profoundly idiosyncratic heroine becomes a universal figure of alienation, an archetypal quester in search of 'a great transformation.'
Whatever you may think of her novel's subject—and I'm still on the fence—you have to give Moshfegh props for her skill as a writer ... As engrossing as it is, there's also something undeniably airless and off-putting about this novel. Reading it is like having one of those weird vivid dreams; a dream that's so self-contained, once you shake off its drowsy spell, you may find it hard to remember what it was all about.
True to her style, Moshfegh’s dark sense of humor makes the reader laugh (perhaps guiltily) when it seems least appropriate. Melancholic, ominous and even uncomfortable, My Year of Rest and Relaxation traverses a labyrinth of emotions.
First-time Ottessa Moshfegh readers will marvel at her ability to write such a saturnine story in such a droll manner. Her witty lines entertain throughout ... Moshfegh’s flawless depiction of life lost in a continuous drug haze continues to shock throughout the book ... Moshfegh takes the reader down a rabbit hole of confusion for a year, leaving the reader to ponder: What is the true meaning of life? ... ribald passages, unapologetic dialogue, and a plot structure only she can devise. Moshfegh is not afraid of anything, and My Year of Rest and Relaxation is one of the year’s best books.
One of the other pleasures of reading Moshfegh is her relentless savagery. All this is delivered as comic—it is comic—but it’s not exactly funny, though of course we laugh ... The dissociation of Moshfegh’s characters—their freedom from the need to make human contact, their constant emotional abandonment of one another during interactions as familiar as sex or childrearing—comes over as genuinely vile, but also as inadvertent, less willed than evidence of a baked-in incompetence on a cultural scale. While we’re laughing, we feel disgust. It’s a combination that makes for diamond-hard entertainment: halfway through, though, the reader begins to hope that My Year of Rest and Relaxation will wake up, collect itself and begin to move in some new direction ... it has been viciously and decisively witty; and it has demonstrated the author’s intellectual and emotional bona fides: now it needs to wake from its own dream and offer conclusions. When it does, almost as an afterthought, the shock is profound and disorienting.
Moshfegh makes X’s voluntary incarceration compelling and darkly funny for the first 150 pages. Then you start to wonder where it’s all heading. By page 200 it’s clear that only an exceptional ending can convert this extended riff into a successful—ie, shapely—novel ... Despite her vaunted talent, Moshfegh isn’t up to the task. After some painfully heavy foreshadowing, 9/11 provides a crude, perfunctory climax. At the start the narrative voice is so confident you feel sure it’s heading somewhere worthwhile. But the laziness of the ending entirely recasts the book’s early promise.
Ottessa Moshfegh hasn’t just walked the literary tightrope that is the existential novel: she’s cartwheeled across. Her new book, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, is an odyssey of consciousness ... Moshfegh’s performance is all the more impressive because the protagonist she invented is so unlikely ... If this character sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because she’s the type to turn up in stories as a detestable foil to illustrate, oh, name it—rampant materialism, shallow mean-girl posturing, the soulless art scene, frat-house eye candy. She’s practically never a fully realized character ... Subverting the conventional is her calling card ... The material may be heavy, but Moshfegh’s treatment of these many themes is deft and ironic enough that they never feel didactic or obvious ... The humor is so dark that sometimes it’s hard to see at all ... The experience of reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation is not unlike sitting in a deer stand for hours, waiting to catch a glimpse of something other than woods. If you’re patient, a sudden deviation from the norm may offer a flash of insight or emotion.
...the boldest literary statement of passive resistance since Herman Melville’s scrivener famously declared 'I would prefer not to' ... It speaks to Moshfegh’s storytelling skills that an account of someone sleeping for a year is as gripping ... In this deliciously dark and unsettling modern fairytale, however, Moshfegh offers us a portrait of passivity as rebellion.
All the emptiness and drugged-up ennui might be a little much if it weren’t for Moshfegh’s trenchant critique and chromatic prose. It is the beauty of her writing and the archness of her observations that keep the reader invested in the narrator’s sorry plight up until the very end.
...try as I might, I couldn’t catch the wave in Moshfegh’s story of a woman who is either so emotionally stunted or drugged up that she has lost all capacity to empathize. The novel feels neither funny nor wise ... As this novel shows, she is a master of detail, and also a keen observer of the social norms her main character goes to extremes to avoid ... However, none of this feels very new.
Moshfegh’s prose is captivating and this novel asks some of life’s big questions. The writing, however, does not make up for the lack of a cohesive plot ... There are very few events within Moshfegh’s storyline, so character development is essentially the story itself. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to care for most of these characters and this dulls their possible emotional effect and the story’s overall ability to make a lasting impact ... Despite the novel’s faults, it is still a thought-provoking piece of literature. The prose, just barely, drives along the story even when there is very little story to tell. My Year of Rest and Relaxation will leave you frustrated, but it will also make you think.
Moshfegh, author of Eileen and Homesick for Another World, brilliantly creates a foil for her narrator. The remarkable thing is that they’re the same person. And this is part of her point, really ... Moshfegh’s most beautiful writing in the novel might come when the narrator reflects lovingly, in a 257-word sentence, on the same mother who used to crush up and dissolve Valium in her daughter’s baby bottle.
Ottessa Moshfegh’s oeuvre reads almost like an attempt to see just how 'unlikeable' characters can get. To be clear, I mean that as a compliment ... While plot is not the primary driver of a novel like My Year of Rest and Relaxation, the story does spin its wheels a bit in the middle ... About halfway through the novel, the scattered references to time make you realize the novel is building towards 9/11. This is a bold move for a book about being detached from everything, but without spoiling the ending, I’ll say it delivers ... My Year of Rest and Relaxation has more stripped-down prose than some of Moshfegh’s other work, though Moshfegh still delights in lyrical beauty even when describing the ugly.
...a darkly comic novel that makes something new out of familiar themes of disenchantment ... under the novel’s veneer of absurdity and provocation is a nuanced study of emotional helplessness. The narrator’s parents are rarely far from her thinking, although she denies she’s grieving. She mocks her appearances-obsessed friend, who eulogizes her own mother with a speech that 'sounded like she’d read it in a Hallmark card.' But the narrator knows her life is no less mediated. Submitting to Big Pharma is the best if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em tactic she can imagine. Moshfegh plays up the humor and strangeness of the concept, partly to ensure we don’t think of the novel as a pat addiction narrative ... the novel is also set during 2000 and 2001, with the twin towers looming much like the narrator’s late parents.
Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation examines the late 1990s in all its late capitalist munificence, for sure, but it also prods, questions and ultimately uses the tropes of the literary movement of its time (post-postmodernism, headed by one of the age’s titans, David Foster Wallace) in order to infuse the novel with pathetic sincerity, or 'New Sincerity,' as the movement would have it. New Sincerity prevents us from dismissing or mocking the narrator outright ... In fact, I think the book’s a double novel, a comment and analysis of both the late ‘90s and of 2016–2018 ... Crucially, I believe, she sleeps because she feels she has no agency, no power to cause any kind of change, since everything is determined by the market. She’s a reflection of her period’s concerns ... So if everything is meaningless, and art has been taken over by Wall Street, and linguistic expression itself is hypocritical—a posture of cynicism, or a posture of sincerity—what is left? It’s a question that strikes a metatextual chord, too—how exactly is Moshfegh going to tell this story of late capitalism without it seeming trite, without it being another example of Neiman-Marcus Nihilism? ... It’s comforting, in a way, to read a novel that indulges in such a fantasy at a time when retiring from the world was sort of acceptable, when neoliberalism—not fascism—was the menace of the day. Yet the epochal context of our reading can’t be escaped. You cannot separate the act of reading the novel in 2018 from the narrative that unfolds in 2000. Moshfegh has established the parallels between both periods so well, the connective tissue that sees one epoch emerge monstrously from the other.
While we laugh at our protagonist’s search for absolution from her past via drug-induced sleep, we get a prehistory to the overstimulated trance into which the United States is interminably stumbling. But with Moshfegh’s attention trained on history, culture, and gender, her trademarks—a willingness to linger in the minds of misanthropes, her relentlessly black humor, and her preoccupation with the human body’s grossest qualities—start to seem more facile than fierce, modes that are ill suited to tackling such weighty matters ... The success of parody requires that an author maintain a stable ironic distance from her target; however, the space between authorial and narrative voice is so narrow here that Moshfegh’s critique reproduces the protagonist’s egocentrism ... There are glimmers of a more interesting novel in My Year of Rest and Relaxation ... Yet by giving her narrator’s myopic vision pride of place, Moshfegh extends that myopia and deprives readers of an outside vantage point, without which the irony is extinguished. The result is a novel that’s better at emulating, rather than skewering, its target.
It takes guts, after all, to spin a yarn out of a rich Upper East Side orphan who decides to put herself to sleep for a year in an attempt at rebirth ... Above all, Ottessa Moshfegh is a merciless comedian of vanity and frailty.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation is in many ways an ideal period piece of pre–Iraq War New York. The references to early Y2K haunts are among the most enjoyable moments simply for their attentiveness to a cultural zeitgeist.
I found Ms. Moshfegh’s fourth effort to be a bit of a sleeper (wha-wha). While things pick up speed a bit when the narrator begins sleep-buying and sleep-partying...the first half of the novel plods through the same well-worn territory ... I grew restless wondering if anything would ever change, and when the moment of catharsis finally came, Ms. Moshfegh rushed through it at a clip ... On the plus side, Ottessa Moshfegh’s signature mordant humor abounds. It turns out, watching a fictional character self-destruct is a hell of a lot of fun ... The characterization of Dr. Tuttle also shines here, providing much of the levity in an otherwise bleak story ... What’s the point of using a retrospective vantage point if the narrator of the 'now' isn’t going to weigh in on the narrator of the past, especially considering how much danger she put herself in on this quest? ... I was thrilled by Ms. Moshfegh’s deft choice of setting: Manhattan in the year 2000. Without overstating with cultural references or doing any unnecessary foreshadowing, the author instills in us a fear for the future right from the get-go, a slow simmering tension ... Gripes aside, the aftershocks of My Year of Rest and Relaxation lingered for days for its authentic depiction of grief.
Fuelled more or less by voice and concept alone, Moshfegh’s blackly funny new novel does away with the genre crutch she leaned on in Eileen ... How far you take to My Year of Rest and Relaxation may depend on how entertaining you find this kind of caustic sociological taxonomy ... there are times when the book feels little more than a dead-eyed catalogue of prescription pills and 80s movies spiked with sulky detail ... And yet, by the end, this comically adversarial narrative seems anything but slight, hitting multiple marks at once.
Alienated characters populate all of Moshfegh’s stories ... This languidly lovely, monied heroine is unusual for her, though her humorously flat cruelty is familiar ... As self-destructive and semi-suicidal as the narrator sounds, one expects that My Year of Rest and Relaxation will evolve into a cautionary tale of addiction and idle hands making the devil’s work. Instead, her self-medication―which she herself treated with veiled suspicion―turns out to be effective ... But My Year of Rest and Relaxation isn’t, at any rate, a prescription: It’s an eerie exploration of how class dictates the degree to which we can care for ourselves, and the degree to which we must ceaselessly engage with a world that batters our souls.
All the emptiness and drugged-up ennui might be a little much if it weren’t for Moshfegh’s trenchant critique and chromatic prose. It is the beauty of her writing and the archness of her observations that keep the reader invested in the narrator’s sorry plight up until the very end ... After her year of pharmaceutical amnesia, it seems as if our narrator might get her happy ending ... Ah, but this is not a simple coming-of-age tale. The ending is abrupt, brutal. It says nothing and everything about our narrator’s future, which we realize with horror, is our own as well.
To sleep, perchance to hardly dream at all, until days turn into weeks and months and eliminate the need to be awake for anything more than a snack, a little light housekeeping, and maybe a change of underwear. That’s all the unnamed narrator of Ottessa Moshfegh’s strange, exhilarating My Year of Rest and Relaxation wants ... If this all sounds grim or claustrophobic, it isn’t; it’s more like one long, unbroken conversation with your smartest, most self-destructive friend. Moshfegh writes with a singular wit and clarity that, on its own, would be more than enough ... But the cumulative power of her narrative—and the sharp turn she takes in its last 30 pages—becomes nothing less than a revelation: sad, funny, astonishing, and unforgettable.
They’re self-centered and negative as hell, but their fantasy lives are too compelling to turn away from. While mitigated by dark humor, very specific pop culture references, and their savvy for observing quite a lot about the worlds they live in even while lacking specific insights into themselves, both characters are still a self-help lover’s nightmare ... As readers, we witness their systematic destruction like we rubberneck a car wreck, but it’s both disturbing and invigorating to peer directly into the minds of female characters who just don’t feel like trying anymore ... Loathe these women and their choices, but it’s hard not to love watching them rebel ... What a joy, then, to spend some time within a fantasy where a woman can be free of the tyranny of constant self-improvement.
Moshfegh’s prose is spectacular, and she captures her narrator’s specific, unique voice perfectly—the voice of a jaded woman with no attachments who hates most people and puts up every wall and barrier in an attempt to feel nothing ... A lesser writer would not be able to pull off this lack of back-story or motivation, but Moshfegh has us accepting and believing the idea that the narrator simply wants to sleep ... While nothing truly remarkable happens in these forty days, Moshfegh’s writing kept me entranced. She so perfectly captured a sense of ennui and amusement that I myself wondered if it wouldn’t be nice to just sleep all the time. Moshfegh creates a sense of manic lethargy in the narrator’s voice that is somehow appealing, making the character’s choices seem almost logical, even at their most absurd ... Moshfegh’s novel is both sad and funny in all the best ways, leaving the reader with a sense of both existential dread as well as hope.
The bravado in Moshfegh’s comprehensive darkness makes her novels both very funny and weirdly exhilarating, despite her willingness to travel so far down the road of misanthropy that she approaches nihilism. Forget likable, these young women refuse even to be acceptable, and this ushers them into a certain kind of freedom. They are to conventional femininity what pirates were to 19th-century mercantilism, and this makes them a blast to read about ... Reviewers have focused on the sleeper’s privilege and attempted to interpret the novel as a gloss on contemporary lifestyle fixations like 'self-care' and political apathy. Yet My Year of Rest and Relaxation is patently a novel about grief ... The painful and humiliating predicament of unrequited love redounds throughout the novel in the sleeper’s attachment to the indifferent Trevor and in her unkindness to poor Reva ... By the novel’s end, she’s attained some kind of higher state, and you can see why Moshfegh was in no great hurry to get her there. Ultimately, the sleeper does and should become a better person—it’s just that the worse one was a lot more fun.
[A] a captivating and disquieting novel ... Though the novel drags a bit in the middle, leading up to the Infermiterol plan, it showcases Moshfegh's signature mix of provocation and dark humor. Following the narrator's dire trajectory is challenging but undeniably fascinating, likely to incite strong reactions and much discussion among readers.
Checking out of society the way the narrator does isn’t advisable, but there’s still a peculiar kind of uplift to the story in how it urges second-guessing the nature of our attachments while revealing how hard it is to break them ... A nervy modern-day rebellion tale that isn’t afraid to get dark or find humor in the darkness.