Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 357
My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a 2018 satirical novel written by American author and novelist Ottessa Moshfegh. It is the author’s second novel, and it tells the story of an anonymous young woman who goes to a psychiatrist who is willing to prescribe her enough medicine to allow her to sleep for a year. The young woman is, obviously, the main protagonist of the story, and as such, she narrates all of the events.
The story is set in 2001. The narrator is in her twenties. She is a pretty and anti-social Columbia University graduate who works in an art gallery in Chelsea. When she was in her senior year of college, both of her parents died and left her a large inheritance. She was fired from work when she was caught sleeping, and she has now decided to use her inheritance and unemployment benefits to buy herself various sleeping pills and psychotropic drugs that will control her anxiety and help her sleep for a year. Fortunately for her, she manages to find a psychiatrist who is willing to easily prescribe these drugs. Many readers argue that the behavior of the psychiatrist is rather unprofessional and quite uncharacteristic of today’s practitioners.
The protagonist has a friend named Reva, with whom she has a complicated love-hate relationship and who comes to check on her from time to time in her apartment. She also has an on-off boyfriend named Trevor, a Wall Street banker, who is somewhat mean and inconsiderate and usually only contacts her when he wishes to tame his sexual desires. Needless to say, the main protagonist is a cold, nihilistic, and empty person, who feels alone and lost and wishes to escape reality. Thus, she starts sleeping, and the world doesn’t stop turning.
The book received mixed reviews. It was praised for its entertaining, humorous narrative, especially for Moshfegh’s sharp wit and dark humor, but it was also criticized for the author’s inconsiderate and light attitude toward prescription drugs and the glorification of the main heroine’s negative personality traits, such as her general displeasure, her anger, and her shameless self-indulgence.
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