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Eileen: A Novel

by Ottessa Moshfegh

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2428411,013 (3.43)132
Dreaming of life in the city while caring for her alcoholic father and working in a 1960s boys' prison, a disturbed young woman is manipulated into committing a psychologically charged crime during the holiday season.
Recently added bystarbox, RyanCSmith, Ken-Me-Old-Mate, tokyoadam, emptychurches, private library, Leeann_M, BALE
  1. 10
    Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Both are excellent examples of American Noir.
  2. 00
    Looker by Laura Sims (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Both feature unsympathetic main characters who constantly make the worst possible decisions.
  3. 00
    Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson (sturlington)
    sturlington: Moshfegh's style reminds me of Shirley Jackson; both novels had young, unreliable narrators.
  4. 01
    An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge (Anonymous user)
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» See also 132 mentions

English (77)  Dutch (2)  Piratical (1)  Latvian (1)  All languages (81)
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
Well, Here’s a strange little story that completely absorbed me. It starts off weird and just gets weirder but in a gripping, coherent way. It wanders down some dark alleys and shows you things that you wish you’d never seen but it is so good that you don’t mind.

It reminded me of Netflix series that I have never seen but probably will one day soon.

Hard to classify, obviously fiction but where to after that? maybe that’s the sign of a good book when you know you have read something good but don’t really know what it was. Dark is a word that arises but with good feelings and not that bleakness that passes itself off as noir.

Dunno really but if I was you I’d put this on your list. ( )
  Ken-Me-Old-Mate | Sep 24, 2020 |
If you’re after completely dysfunctional, unlikeable characters then try this book. I can usually enjoy novels where the characters are extremely flawed but not this one. My local library had given this a “crime” genre sticker but most of the book just concerns the lead up to a crime. So what kept me reading? This book had also been labelled a “thriller” (no, it wasn’t) but I was curious enough to want to find out what the crime had been. All know is the protagonist really made me curl my lip whilst reading about her. ( )
1 vote Mercef | Jul 3, 2020 |
The first 85% of this novel was gleefully, bizarrely Shirley Jackson. I loved Eileen in all of her self-centered, contradictory, unreliability as a narrator. I was both cheering for her and wishing ill upon her. The ending, though... it's not bad, it's just a little more commonplace than the rest of the story. Maybe that's the point, though. The illusion has been deflated, and even though it was a depressing illusion, a depraved and deluded illusion, Eileen still misses it. And so do I. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jun 28, 2020 |
This is the author's debut novel and I consider it a character study. The narrator and protagonist is Eileen who is an old lady as she tells us about a short time in her life when she was 24-years-old during the 1960's. Eileen hates herself and everything about her life which includes her home, her father, and her job. She has no friends so is lonely, angry about her life, and lives with her alcoholic father who constantly degrades her. They live in a filthy house, Eileen eats a poor diet, and has awful personal hygiene since she seldom bathes. Her wardrobe consists of her dead mother's clothes which don't fit her.

There is no action in the first half of this dark novel as it tells us about Eileen and everything that is disgusting and pathetic about her. I kept wondering why I continued reading it but I wanted to see if life got any better for Eileen. She works in an office at a juvenile boys' prison and one day Rebecca starts working there. Suddenly, Eileen's life changes as she and Rebecca become friends. I thought the last half of the novel made up for my putting up with the first half. There were twists and turns I didn't see coming.

Be warned if you think about reading this book. While it's well-written and the characters (there aren't many) are well-developed, there are some very revolting aspects about Eileen and her life. ( )
  pegmcdaniel | Jun 5, 2020 |
This is a 3 1/2 star for me... Thank you Ottessa Moshfegh, for writing a book that is dark and weird and looking at you out the corner of her eye from down the liquor store aisle, and mercifully does not involve beautiful women who drop the oddball act when they suddenly become "mommas" and vaginally convert themselves into redemptive figures.

I find it totally REFRESHING to find a book that doesn't follow a formula and doesn't apologize for it. The main character is someone we probably all know but have never spoken to and I enjoyed my brief and scary ride with Eileen at the wheel. Reading this in a dark and dreary January was just what I needed to feel brooding and dirty. ( )
  gakgakg | May 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
Excess drives the descriptions. It is as if Moshfegh has grasped the fact that few things excite modern publishers more than the grotesque and an author daring to be offensive. As a bottom-scratching, finger-sniffing, no hand-washing creation, Eileen never becomes more than a disgusting, impersonal caricature caught up in her fascination with her self-loathing: “Having to breathe was an embarrassment in itself. This was the kind of girl I was.”

Well-reviewed in the US, Eileen reveals a great deal about the gimmicky quest for the next big thing which often turns out, as it does here, to be far less worthy of attention than yesterday’s superior offerings.
 
Eileen could have stepped out of Flannery O'Connor or Shirley Jackson. Wonderfully horrible Humbert Humbert also comes to mind. Eileen may be "unfit for the world," but I was pulling for her. I wanted her to escape the prison of life with father, wished that her dreams of fleeing to New York might come true.

Eileen is a coming-of age novel about a formidable, yet flawed young woman. The norms of society disgust and seduce her at the same time. There is a sweetly sinister humor in Moshfegh's prose.
added by Lemeritus | editNPR, Jean Zimmerman (Aug 23, 2015)
 
Moshfegh, whose novella, “McGlue,” was published last year, writes beautiful sentences. One after the other they unwind — playful, shocking, wise, morbid, witty, searingly sharp. The ­beginning of this novel is so impressive, so controlled yet whimsical, fresh and thrilling, you feel she can do anything....But for this reader, the thrill is the language. It is sentences like this: “The terrain of my face was heavy with soft, rumbling acne scars blurring whatever delight or madness lay beneath that cold and deadly New England exterior.”...Rebecca and her motivations, once we learn them, feel pasted in from another book. They do not square with the universe Moshfegh so meticulously created in the first part of the novel...The real excitement toward the end is watching Eileen come into a position of authority for the first time in her life.
 
It’s hard to imagine the terrible, drunken, addled father who visited the toilet with a handgun ever tolerating Eileen’s “blabbering on about my ideas, regurgitating barely read synopses from the backs of books … talking about how I felt about myself, life, the times in which we lived”.

The bad thing that is eventually revealed, and the bad thing that happens as a consequence, don’t quite live up to the atmospheric badness with which the novel draws along the reader. But there is something satisfyingly unsettling about the novel – the awfulness of Eileen’s life crackles throughout the air of X-Ville like static electricity, ready to discharge in some unlikely place or upon some unlikely person. And when it does, when the bell jar lifts, our heroine “open to the circulating air” and finally free, we can’t help but feel the slightest bit glad.
 
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I looked like a girl you'd expect to see on a city bus, reading some clothbound book from the library about plants or geography, perhaps wearing a net over my light brown hair.
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He was a drunk, as I said. He was simple in that way. When something was the matter, he was easy to distract and soothe: I’d just hand him a bottle and leave the room. Of course his drinking put a strain on me as a young person. It made me very tense and edgy. That happens when one lives with an alcoholic. My story in this sense is not unique. I’ve lived with many alcoholic men over the years, and each has taught me that it is useless to worry, fruitless to ask why, suicide to try to help them. They are who they are, for better and worse. Now I live alone. Happily. Gleefully, even. I’m too old to concern myself with other people’s affairs. And I no longer waste my time thinking ahead into the future, worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. But I worried all the time when I was young, not least of all about my future, and mostly with respect to my father—how long he had left to live, what he might do, what I would find when I got home from work each evening.
I must have looked nineteen going on sixty-five in that foppish approximation of decency, that adult costume.
What I mean to say is that I was not fundamentally unattractive. I was just invisible.
Her lipstick was a cheap and insincere fuchsia.
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Dreaming of life in the city while caring for her alcoholic father and working in a 1960s boys' prison, a disturbed young woman is manipulated into committing a psychologically charged crime during the holiday season.

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