Our narrator should be happy, shouldn’t she? She’s young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?
My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018) is the latest novel by Ottessa Moshfegh. The story follows an unnamed narrator who is fed up with her life such as it is. Both her parents are dead, her recurring ex-boyfriend is a high-class dirtbag, and her only consistent relationship with her friend Reva is toxic. Life offers nothing of meaning or value to her. Everything is a superficial façade. In attempt to remedy her existential dilemma, with the help of a terrible psychiatrist, the narrator embarks upon a journey self-renewal. She begins taking a myriad of sleep aids and medication to keep herself sedated in her apartment as often as possible for an entire year, believing that by the end of this time she will emerge restored in mind and spirit.Read More »
Goodness, it has been a bit since I wrote one of these. Nearly two months to be specific. There have been some small pieces of news on the writing front, though nothing major. I think I really do need to write these more frequently, as some apparent lapses I’ll get in to might be attributed to my failing to keep this corner of my blog updated.Read More »
It’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these, hasn’t it? A little over a month? About time I checked back in with another report. In terms of meeting the goals I did better this time around, though I feel I lightened the load a little. I’ve relaxed a little too much since meeting the goal, so now’s a good time to push myself again.Read More »
So, here is my first check back in since starting these reports. I didn’t quite meet the goals I wanted, but like I said weeks ago, if these get my writing more I will consider them a success. I have definitely been writing more and it feels good.
Life in a small town takes a dark turn when mysterious footage begins appearing on VHS cassettes at the local Video Hut.
Universal Harvester by John Darnielle is a 2017 mystery/fiction novel set in the late 1990s. The story follows Jeremy, a man in his early twenties who works at his local Video Hut, a dead-end job he finds palatable because it gets him out of the house and makes his daily life predictable. He lives with his father; his mother having died six years previously in a car wreck. His daily monotony is interrupted when he starts to notice a trend of people complaining about “something else” being on the tapes they’ve rented. Troubling, homemade footage not a part of the movie. It’s a premise that I found quite tantalizing, as I’m sure many others have. An effectively simple concept that promises to unsettle, yet you feel drawn in. Despite how this sounds, however, this book is not a horror story.Read More »
Ever since his girlfriend ended their relationship, Thomas Rosanoff’s life has been on a downward spiral. A gifted med student, he has spent his entire adulthood struggling to escape the legacy of his father, an esteemed psychiatrist who used him as a test subject when he was a boy. Thomas lived his entire young life as the “Boy in the Box,” watched by researchers behind two-way glass.
But now the tables have turned. Thomas is the researcher, and his subjects are three homeless men, all of whom claim to be messiahs—but no three people can be the one and only saviour of the world. Thomas is determined to “cure” the three men of their delusions, and in so doing save his career—and maybe even his love life. But when Thomas’s father intervenes in the experiment, events spin out of control, and Thomas must confront the voices he hears in the labyrinth of his own mind.
Disclosure: I won this novel in a Goodreads giveaway. Copy was provided by the publisher.
The Shoe on the Roof, published October 17, 2017, is the newest novel by Will Ferguson, author of the Giller Prize winning novel 419. I’ve read a couple of Ferguson’s books before, though neither of the two were fiction. I really enjoyed his previous work, however, so I was immediately interested once I learned he had a new book coming out this year. Without actually looking much into the synopsis, my brain took the title and created vague notions of what to expect, all of which were not at all like the journey into love, neuroscience, and mental health that I embarked upon.Read More »
What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?
Right now I’m reading The Shoe on the Roof by Will Ferguson, which is so far making for a rather interesting read. I didn’t know anything about it going in other than vague notions my mind had conjured based on the title. It’s not what I had conjured, which is a good thing. After a bad break up, a med student begins an experiment to cure three men of their delusions: each believes they are Jesus Christ. The writing has been insightful, funny, and gripping so far, though it is taking its time in ramping things up. It takes a rather poignant look at relationships too, and the narrator’s interaction with the reader is interesting in what Ferguson chooses to have revealed.
I read DC Universe: Rebirth by Geoff Johns et al the other day, starting me off on my journey to the new series Doomsday Clock. I wish I knew more about the various DC characters within to have a better connection with the references in this book, but I still knew enough about the basic goings-on over the last several years to appreciate the gravity of the story. It also does a good job of contextualizing things so that less familiar readers are not completely lost as well. I especially appreciated the art work, which in certain cases mimicked the panel composition of Watchmen.
The year is winding down, so I really have to think carefully about what I’m reading next. I’m a stickler for books not carrying over to a new year, so I have to make sure what I pick up will be finished in time. One book I want to push myself to read is Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman, a collection of short stories. It’s yet another book I wrote into a list on a scrap of paper late last year that I wanted to get through in 2017. Hopefully I can make good on at least one more on that list this month.
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is a 1951 novel about a young man named Holden Caulfield who has flunked out of his private school. It starts in the days before Christmas break, after which he will not be returning to the school. Instead of waiting out the remainder of his days there, he leaves without telling anyone, heading into New York City, where his family lives, and spending a few days there unattended.Read More »
The flesh is weak; the timber is crooked; people are cruel to each other, and stupid, and hurtful. But beauty comes from strange sources. And the dark energy surging through these stories is powerfully invigorating. We’re in the hands of an author with a big mind, a big heart, blazing chops, and a political acuity that is needle-sharp. The needle hits the vein before we even feel the prick.
Homesick for Another World is a collection of short stories by Ottessa Moshfegh, whose debut novel Eileen was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. I have not read Eileen, which I mainly bring up because I find it interesting that I started this book on a whim. She’s a talented author, this collection apparently quite anticipated, but I first started looking into it because there’s a spaceship on the cover. It’s funny how things work out sometimes. The design hearkens back to old science fiction pulps, and I honestly appreciate this beyond how I was simply drawn to its imagery.Read More »
Haunted by a failed love affair and the darkest of family secrets, Waldemar ‘Waldy’ Tolliver wakes one morning to discover that he has been exiled from the flow of time. The world continues to turn, and Waldy is desperate to find his way back—a journey that forces him to reckon not only with the betrayal at the heart of his doomed romance but also the legacy of his great-grandfather’s fatal pursuit of the hidden nature of time itself.
Released in February of this year, John Wray’s The Lost Time Accidents is a story about a family’s obsession with the nature of time. Narratively framed by Waldy Tolliver, who has found himself “exiled from time,” the novel tells the history of numerous generations of his family as written by him, his intended audience being his former lover Mrs. Haven.
The Lost Time Accidents, or more simply “the Accidents,” are cryptic words on the final page of notes Waldy’s great-grandfather Ottokar Toula wrote on the day he died, a day he supposedly learned something revolutionary about time itself. This final page was the only one recovered, propelling his sons and their descendants down a path to understand what he’d discovered.Read More »