Eileen

Eileen

Book - 2015
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SPPL_Violet Jun 25, 2019

This is a short book, with most of its prose taken up with descriptions, flashbacks, and characterizations. What started as a plodding and prosaic story very quickly turned into a more taught thriller with lots of foreshadowing. While I had my grievances, they were few and far in between. More than anything, it was the narrator's voice that had a strong grip. I wanted to hear her thoughts about everything, and she didn't hold back.

j
jessibfoz
Mar 22, 2019

Fantastically dark and quirky and so happily removed from some of the twee literature that seems to need to be written and read lately. Moshfegh's writing is gritty, cool, and not in some contrived way but because it needs to be, it's genuine. And she does it so masterfully. It's not some throw your hands up token social cause, it's not so faulty, obvious. Eileen and Moshfegh herself are very concerned with the matter of women's bodies: the dirty, deep-seated relation we have with them; what Sartre would call the 'slimey' nature of them. The reality of them as well as the complete alien disconnection we feel towards them, or are positioned to have more accurately. I really felt a strong connection to this book, to this clueless but also brave young woman, who has those parents, and her futile relationship to her father and his alcoholism. Eileen isn't polished, no excuses are made: she and this book have been accused of being 'gross': I remember when this was published and doing the rounds for the Man Booker people having such strong reactions to Eileen. But I didn't find her out of the ordinary--we, humans, are a bit gross, but labelling this book in that way casts it off as merely a trick.

Set in the 60s somewhere in New England, Eileen is 24, her mother is dead and she walks around wearing her mother's clothing. She sticks dead mice in her glove box. She purges after countless laxatives. Her sister, Joanie, the pretty one, fled home as soon as she could. She lives with her drunk father, buying him bottles of gin daily and works in a male juvenile prison at the desk. Her house is filthy. Her paranoid father sees things, gets outside to make neighbourhood trouble, but because he's an ex-cop, he gets just respect, affectionate reprimands. She fucking hates him, she imagines the icicles in their threshold driving into the gristle of his neck. She drives an old dodge, which with its dodgy exhaust, slowly suffocates her every time she drives. She is painfully embarassed by her body. Her life is dull and monotonous and she needs to run away, and as her 70-year old self narrates, she will. But not before Rebecca comes along. Rebecca is beautiful and smart, she is everything Eileen wants to be and everything she can admire. She is mysterious and alluring. And so we have a literary thriller, but again, to label it as that would be too simple. As cloying as the perfumes Eileen laughs at us for wearing to cover our organic, decomposing bodies. It's all so claustrophobic for Eileen: her body, the town, the boys' prison, her father, her family. This is about breaking free of the confines--of removing the slime, as it were. Eileen states: 'This is the story of how I disappeared.'

Just the writing itself is amazing. It is thrilling--smart and controlled. From the tone of the character, which is so pitch perfect, realistic, and unique, to the way she drops hints and builds suspense. It is both beautifully written AND a suspense. How exciting, refreshing, to find a young writer and a new career to follow. One of the best contemporary books I've read. Onwards to My Year of Rest and Relaxation.

l
laphampeak
Oct 06, 2018

Hate turned to love with this one! Eileen is maladjusted to say the least. Her home and work environment lacks any semblance to "normal" living or healthy mentality. This dysfunction is reflected in her bleak life. Much of the book trods through Eileen's impaired ability to eat, breathe, or relate in normal society. Much of the story affirms this. When I was about to give it a "meh" the story turned to its climax and drew me back in.

w
writermala
Jul 30, 2018

It is not often that I don't like a book. Well till "Eileen" came along I liked practically every book I read. "Eileen" maybe about character more than plot but the characters are not likeable. How long can one read and tolerate detailed descriptions of a dysfunctional family and the lead characters' dysfunctional job? There was nothing happening till the last few pages and then it was too little too late.

f
FASTEYES
Jul 08, 2018

Didn't like this book at all...made myself plow through it thinking "this has to get better! But it didn't!! Read more as a "poor me" book. A waste of time!

w
WoodneathBrad
Jul 04, 2018

Set in 1964 New England in the cold of winter, Eileen as an older adult narrates a disturbing tale of her younger self, aged 24, focusing on the last week of her time in her hometown, which she snarkly calls X-ville. Eileen lives with her alcoholic and verbally abusive father and works as a secretary at a prison for boys. Unhappy with her life, her body, and her identity, Eileen desperately wants to escape to New York. This desire gets muted somewhat when Rebecca, a beautiful and well-educated woman who connects with Eileen, arrives as a new employee at the prison. The plot builds up to Christmas Eve, when Eileen, expecting a delightful evening with Rebecca, finds herself in a situation where the only way out she can see is to commit a crime. Moshfegh spends some time explaining the details of Eileen’s life, which helps highlight her difficulties and creates a dark mood in the narrative. While the suspenseful turn in the narrative takes some time to develop, it is a turn that is unexpected and carefully crafted.

s
s390325
Feb 07, 2018

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.

Vero_biblio Jan 09, 2018

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.

inthestacks Aug 30, 2017

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.

d
daysleeper236
Apr 07, 2017

Very dark and twisted and utterly compelling. Not recommended for those who are easily offended.

JCLBryanV Feb 27, 2017

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.

t
taylorwoods
Feb 17, 2017

“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.

a
abcDena
Jan 31, 2017

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.

h
hamberger
Jan 04, 2017

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.

n
njon38
Dec 31, 2016

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.

Amy_MarkhamPL Dec 08, 2016

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.

u
uncommonreader
Oct 30, 2016

This book has no redeeming qualities. An older woman narrates her own story as a damaged and disturbed 24 year old working in a boy's prison in New England who meets a privileged new co-worker who brings a liberal sensibility to the situation of the young boy prisoners. It fails as a thriller - unbelievable and illogical. It fails as a character study - Eileen is all description of the outward manifestations of an alienated woman without any insight into why she is this way.

z
zoemulford
Oct 19, 2016

Amazing!! I usually really dislike novels and fiction writing but I absolutely LOVED this book. The writing is so incredible and so addicting. When I wasn't reading this book, I was thinking about it. It's a weird little book, but weird in all the right ways. Honestly, this book is the best fiction story I've read in a VERY long time.

k
Katemai
Oct 05, 2016

I really enjoyed this rather dark story of a young woman who lives with her alcoholic, paranoid, abusive father and works in a correctional facility for young men. She is trapped in this bleak existence until the day she meets Rebecca, and forces begin to roll that will spring her to freedom. Dark but also very smart and sprinkled with wry humor.

a
annekim9
Jun 06, 2016

Dark but such excellent writing I couldn't stop reading it. I was very pleased with the ending. Not for the squeamish. I will look for this author's future novels.

a
abcDena
Mar 15, 2016

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.

p
Persnickety77
Jan 27, 2016

I had mixed feelings about this one. Well written and compelling, but Rebecca's character just did not make sense to me. What the hell was that woman's deal?

j
jameshosking
Jan 25, 2016

This was a pleasant surprise! I loved this book and didn't want it to end. It deals with some dark material, but that's not a deterrent for me. If anything, it's a selling point. I encourage you NOT to read any reviews or some of the more spoiler heavy reviews here. Just read it and be surprised. If you enjoy this check out the author's novella "McGlue" which I also really liked. I can't wait to see what she writes next.

b
brangwinn
Oct 26, 2015

This is a difficult dark story to read. Told in the first person, Eileen, 24, is the daughter of alcoholics and the gene has been passed on to her. She lives with her father, in a filthy home. They never cook. She seems to survive on peanuts, alcohol and laxatives, vermouth being her favorite. She has no friends, she is a shoplifter, hates to read or to watch movies, and spends most of her time up in the attic lying in her cot. She’s fascinated by bodily functions and will probably remain a virgin. She works as a secretary in a boys prison and is befriended by the new education specialist, who also disturbed. Their confrontation with the mother of a boy who killed his father is bizarre and leads to Eileen leaving town telling no one. Creepy psychological reading. Not my cup of tea, but Moshfegn’s writing is superb. It is impossible to read this story without wanting to take a shower afterwards to cleanse you of the bizarre memories Eileen leaves the reader with.

multcolib_karene Sep 06, 2015

Eileen is a very unhappy woman who desperately wants a new life and in a dark, twisted, shocking way, she gets one. This is indeed a disturbing but oh so compelling story.


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