Eileen: A Novel - Ottessa Moshfegh

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a more self-loathing character than Eileen. Oh, how she hates herself and the world! At least she does when she’s 24 year old, working in a boy’s detention center and living with her alcoholic father. The story is told by Eileen when she’s an old woman and apparently she’s happy in her old age. She’s telling of a particular week in her life, a week before Christmas, when she meets Rebecca and her world is changed drastically.


This is a very character driven book, which is something I usually enjoy. It’s also a very dark book, which is also something I usually enjoy. But this book goes a bit too far, to the point of being preposterous. I tend to think that it’s supposed to be funny in its absurdness.  If so, I just didn’t see the humor. It literally turned my stomach at times.


I will say, though, that the author is a daring one and has created a very human character, albeit a very damaged one. I never wanted to give up on the book and wanted to see what the event is that Eileen keeps hinting about. That event doesn’t come about until the last 20-30 pages. While that event was unexpected, it only left me puzzled.


Many people have loved this book and it has won some honorable prizes. Unfortunately, I personally cannot recommend it.

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