My Year of Rest and Relaxation

The narrator of My Year of Rest and Relaxation is beautiful and wealthy and entirely tired of everything. With the help of a deranged doctor and a cornucopia of drugs, she embarks on an adventure to sleep for an entire year—an escapade she believes will lead to her being reborn as something new, something better, someone less estranged from the world. Mossfegh spares her narrator few sympathetic moments, and mostly you follow her on her inane path with disgust. At its best, the book spears the affluent, whitewashed version of self-care that promises peace and calm to its practitioners but nothing of the sort to the poor folk that cater to them. The titular year begins in late 2000, in New York, and marches inexorably towards September 11, 2001, bringing the narrator’s self-centered dissatisfaction into particular focus. I wanted to hate this book, and I think I mostly did hate it; but I couldn’t put it down, and have been thinking about it since.