Bleah. I am not sure why I even picked up this book in the first place. There is a lot of foreshadowing without much of a mystery or secret to reveal. Just creepy disturbing people.
This is set in the 1960s and it's narrated by this young woman, Eileen, who hates herself, dresses in her dead mother's clothing, and lives with her alcoholic father who treats her like garbage. She works in a youth detention centre and plans to escape her boring life for New York, when a glamorous woman joins her team at work. She falls -- not in love -- but in admiration with the woman and a weird mystery plot ensues. For fans of dark comedies.
Eileen tells the story of her dull, tragic life living with a chronic alcoholic father and her dead end job in a boys detention centre. When she meets Rebecca, a Harvard graduate, who has been hired to teach the boys, her life takes an unexpected turn that completely alters her future. Something dark, twisted and amusing – uniquely enjoyable.
Very dark and twisted and utterly compelling. Not recommended for those who are easily offended.
Yes, the writing is terrific. Yes, the story is dark. Yes, Eileen is thoroughly dislikeable as a character. Yes, nothing "happens" until the last 60 or so pages. And yes, despite all these qualifications, you should read this book. Moral ambiguity is everywhere here. These characters are all more complex than they appear on the surface, and Ottessa Moshfegh's greatest strength as a writer is to make Eileen simultaneously repulsive and oddly sympathetic (to a degree). I was shocked by the ending. This is not a story for the feint at heart but it *is* a story for those who appreciate dark character studies. I'll definitely be reading more from the author.
“Furthermore, as is typical for any isolated, intelligent young person, I thought I was the only one with any consciousness, any awareness of how odd it was to be alive, to be a creature on this strange planet Earth.”
Eileen is unquestionably one of the oddest and quirkiest characters I’ve come across. When I say quirkiest- I don’t mean bubbly, outgoing and cheerleader on the side of the yard. I mean quirk as in she’s so absorbed in her own little niches and clicks. Not in an OCD way, but in a way that Eileen would win medals in self-loathing, sexual repression, and body dismorphic thoughts.
She works at a local prison by day as a secretary, silently judging all her coworkers, and by night she lives in a decrepit house with her alcoholic father. Exciting, right? One day, a new young gal named Rebecca joins the prison staff- she’s beautiful, intelligent, and overall intriguing to Eileen. She’s not so sweet as she seems with something a little too thrilling to Eileen- to the point causing Eileen to leave X-Ville.
This one is definitely a character-oriented novel with nothing crazy cool happening till the last 60 pages or so. What kept me invested in this tale honestly was wanting to know what the big hullabaloo was about. I feel like people will genuinely like this book for Otessa’s really good writing and characterization, or they will dislike it for it’s lack of plot, brooding and repressive tone, and slow burn reveal.
Overall though- kinda glad I did read it, but at the same time I didn’t gain anything new except for understanding the author’s writing style and adding another character-driven novel to my “read” list. It felt like I had witnessed a car accident, and so therefore I had to stay behind and see what would happen next. I would recommend this one to readers who enjoy: character driven novels, melancholic and passive characters, slow-burner plots, and gloomier tones.
This is one of the most unsettling books, raising really uncomfortable questions about victimhood & victimization. Read Moshfegh with a glass of wine, otherwise Eileen can come off sounding like an over-wrought MFA piece. It reminds me of Plath's sterile East-coast master-slave narratives (which I actually love) and slow-mo self-destruction.
There are some reallllllly disturbing parts in this book. Be warned. I don't want to say too much, except read it, or don't.
This book is only about 250 pages. After about 150 pages I was wondering when something would happen. I almost stopped reading, but I kept thinking, "no, something interesting will happen soon." On about page 220, something interesting finally happened. But it was just kinda gross and disturbing and overall, I just didn't really like this book.
Short listed for the Mann Booker prize, this American writer of Croatian and Iranian descent writes beautiful sentences about a pitiable, self absorbed neurotic the eponymous Eileen. This is all about character with little plot and in my opinion a weak denouement. Worth the read for the prose.
I adored this. It's dark, funny, slightly sinister and unsettling. Eileen is a unique and fully realized character, and Moshfegh's is an exciting new voice in fiction.
daysleeper236 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over
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