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Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1567711,696 (3.42)130
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.
  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 130 mentions

English (73)  Dutch (2)  Piratical (1)  Latvian (1)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
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 |
I don't know why anyone finds the narrator difficult or hard to like. I loved her!

"I didn't like dogs. Not because they scared me- they didn't- but because their deaths were so much harder to take than people's. My dog since childhood, Mona, a Scottish terrier, the runt of its litter, passed away the week before my mother died. Without hesitation I can say my heart was broken as much over the loss of that dog as by the death of my own mother. I imagine I'm not the only person on Earth to feel that way, but for a long time the feelings seemed shameful. Perhaps had I a Dr. Frye to confess this to, I might have uncovered something which would have brought me relief, a new perspective, but I never did. Anyways, I don't trust those people who poke around sad people's minds to tell them how interesting it all is up there. It's not interesting. My mother was mean and that dog was nice. One doesn't need a college degree." ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
Fascinating story of a depressed, emotionally vulnerable and unstable young woman, told from the perspective of the woman she becomes, looking back after fifty years. Even though the character of Eileen is dark and often disturbingly lost, this is a novel of hope, and a trail of literary breadcrumbs is sprinkled throughout, leading us out of the darkness.

The novel is, in once sense brutally honest, but it is the honesty of someone who can look dispassionately on her past while at the same time recognizing that she can see herself more clearly in some ways, but also less clearly in others. All memory is haunted by time and experience. The narrator has to continually fight to keep from inserting herself into the narrative, and her presence reminds us that Eileen does survive this dark period, does in fact move forward in life. This I believe is a difficult task, to show us a snapshot of young Eileen, from the within the window of memory but simultaneously as an outsider.

Fascinating and beautiful novel, but not for those who feel that a character must be likable for the read to be rewarding.. ( )
  dooney | Mar 28, 2020 |
  nwieme | Mar 19, 2020 |
A very weak mystery told from the point-of-view of an unlikable, disgusting woman. I didn't enjoy this pointless story. ( )
  Caroline77 | Jan 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (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.
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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amazon ca :A lonely young woman working in a boys’ prison outside Boston in the early 60s is pulled into a very strange crime, in a mordant, harrowing story of obsession and suspense, by one of the brightest new voices in fiction...The Christmas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed young woman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father’s caretaker in a home whose squalor is the talk of the neighborhood and a day job as a secretary at the boys’ prison, filled with its own quotidian horrors. Consumed by resentment and self-loathing, Eileen tempers her dreary days with perverse fantasies and dreams of escaping to the big city. In the meantime, she fills her nights and weekends with shoplifting, stalking a buff prison guard named Randy, and cleaning up her increasingly deranged father’s messes. When the bright, beautiful, and cheery Rebecca Saint John arrives on the scene as the new counselor at Moorehead, Eileen is enchanted and proves unable to resist what appears at first to be a miraculously budding friendship. In a Hitchcockian twist, her affection for Rebecca ultimately pulls her into complicity in a crime that surpasses her wildest imaginings.

Played out against the snowy landscape of coastal New England in the days leading up to Christmas, young Eileen’s story is told from the gimlet-eyed perspective of the now much older narrator. Creepy, mesmerizing, and sublimely funny, in the tradition of Shirley Jackson and early Vladimir Nabokov, this powerful debut novel enthralls and shocks, and introduces one of the most original new voices in contemporary literature.
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