It’s good to be foolish from time to time. It keeps your spirit young.—Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen
The genre: Contemporary fiction, suspense
The gist: In 1964, Eileen works at a prison office at a male juvenile detention center, is daughter to an alcoholic ex-cop, and has lots of opinions on both.
The background: My brother used to work at the airport, and in the break room they had what they called their “library,” which was the was the stacks upon stacks of books that got left at the airport on a daily basis accumulated by the employees. Sometimes he’d send me photos and I’d ask him to grab specific titles for me; other times he’d just grab me a random book or two. This was one of the random ones. It’s been sitting on my shelf for years, and it was the perfect read last month during a snowstorm in Chicago!
The tea: I’m really glad this book fell into my lap.
It’s dark in a Gillian Flynn way, and I love Gillian Flynn. It reminded me a bit of Psycho by Robert Bloch, too. The writing in both is shrewd and to the point, and both Norman Bates and Eileen are calmly tortured introverts, who crave social interaction but react kind of…intensely when they really like someone.
Eileen is judgy, resentful, insecure, and slightly delusional. And that’s what makes her such a joy to read. Her humor is dark, witty, often harsh. She reads the people around her to filth in her head every second of every day, but only to avoid facing her own self-disgust.
Again, a joy.
She can be a frustrating contradiction, but so are most humans. We stan a flawed protagonist over a boring one.
I only wish this book were longer! Definitely going to be reading more of this author.
The wrap-up: If you like dark humor and writing that unapologetically explores the morbid side of human thoughts, this book is for you.
The rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
I hid my shameful perversions under a facade of prudishness. Of course I did. It’s easy to tell the dirtiest minds—look for the cleanest fingernails.—Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen