However, It Might Help You Get Some Sleep
I know I’m not alone in fantasizing about taking a long “Sleeping Beauty” style nap during these horrible times of Trump. A few bed sores in exchange for not seeing that orange face for a while? Sign me up. But after reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, in which the unnamed main character drugs herself to escape life in the early 2000’s, I’m not so sure about that anymore.
Though this has widely been hailed as a “hilarious” novel, I actually found this story by the undeniably talented Moshfegh to be more depressing than funny. The 24-year-old narrator, a thin, blonde woman who inherited enough money from her deceased parents to live comfortably, spends her days gobbling antidepressants, watching Whoopi Goldberg movies and occasionally interacting with her friend, shallow Reva, and her misogynistic ex-boyfriend Trevor. She then convinces her therapist, a quack she found in the phone book and one of the few comedic highlights, to prescribe Infermitero, a drug that’ll make her sleep for three days at a time. She also agrees to be a prop for an avant garde artist during her planned four months of sleep time, hoping that when it’s all over she’ll wake up a better and more enlightened person. A rebirth via the CVS pharmacy, if you will.
I didn’t much enjoy this unlikable story filled with unlikable characters, but the subtle humor and societal insights by Moshfegh kept me reading. (I admit to skimming the many, many paragraphs that detail the chemical makeup of her pills.) And while I’m sure there’s a case to be made about how brilliantly this novel skewers the self-involved, the art world, the pharmaceutical industry, and the folly of creating your own reality, I don’t think I’m the one to make it. I’d rather take a nap.