Book - 2015
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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

So here we are. My name was Eileen Dunlop. Now you know me. I was twenty-four years old then, and had a job that paid fifty-seven dollars a week as a kind of secretary at a private juvenile correctional facility for teenage boys. I think of it now as what it really was for all intents and purposes--a prison for boys. I will call it Moorehead. Delvin Moorehead was a terrible landlord I had years later, and so to use his name for such a place feels appropriate. In a week, I would run away from home and never go back.

This is the story of how I disappeared.

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.
Publisher: New York :, Penguin Press,, 2015
Copyright Date: ♭2015
ISBN: 9781594206627
Characteristics: 260 pages


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Oct 06, 2018

Hate turned to love with this one! Eileen is maladjusted to say the least. Her home and work environment lacks any semblance to "normal" living or healthy mentality. This dysfunction is reflected in her bleak life. Much of the book trods through Eileen's impaired ability to eat, breathe, or relate in normal society. Much of the story affirms this. When I was about to give it a "meh" the story turned to its climax and drew me back in.

Jul 30, 2018

It is not often that I don't like a book. Well till "Eileen" came along I liked practically every book I read. "Eileen" maybe about character more than plot but the characters are not likeable. How long can one read and tolerate detailed descriptions of a dysfunctional family and the lead characters' dysfunctional job? There was nothing happening till the last few pages and then it was too little too late.

Jul 08, 2018

Didn't like this book at all...made myself plow through it thinking "this has to get better! But it didn't!! Read more as a "poor me" book. A waste of time!

Jul 04, 2018

Set in 1964 New England in the cold of winter, Eileen as an older adult narrates a disturbing tale of her younger self, aged 24, focusing on the last week of her time in her hometown, which she snarkly calls X-ville. Eileen lives with her alcoholic and verbally abusive father and works as a secretary at a prison for boys. Unhappy with her life, her body, and her identity, Eileen desperately wants to escape to New York. This desire gets muted somewhat when Rebecca, a beautiful and well-educated woman who connects with Eileen, arrives as a new employee at the prison. The plot builds up to Christmas Eve, when Eileen, expecting a delightful evening with Rebecca, finds herself in a situation where the only way out she can see is to commit a crime. Moshfegh spends some time explaining the details of Eileen’s life, which helps highlight her difficulties and creates a dark mood in the narrative. While the suspenseful turn in the narrative takes some time to develop, it is a turn that is unexpected and carefully crafted.

Feb 07, 2018

Bleah. I am not sure why I even picked up this book in the first place. There is a lot of foreshadowing without much of a mystery or secret to reveal. Just creepy disturbing people.

Vero_biblio Jan 09, 2018

This is set in the 1960s and it's narrated by this young woman, Eileen, who hates herself, dresses in her dead mother's clothing, and lives with her alcoholic father who treats her like garbage. She works in a youth detention centre and plans to escape her boring life for New York, when a glamorous woman joins her team at work. She falls -- not in love -- but in admiration with the woman and a weird mystery plot ensues. For fans of dark comedies.

inthestacks Aug 30, 2017

Eileen tells the story of her dull, tragic life living with a chronic alcoholic father and her dead end job in a boys detention centre. When she meets Rebecca, a Harvard graduate, who has been hired to teach the boys, her life takes an unexpected turn that completely alters her future. Something dark, twisted and amusing – uniquely enjoyable.

Apr 07, 2017

Very dark and twisted and utterly compelling. Not recommended for those who are easily offended.

JCLBryanV Feb 27, 2017

Yes, the writing is terrific. Yes, the story is dark. Yes, Eileen is thoroughly dislikeable as a character. Yes, nothing "happens" until the last 60 or so pages. And yes, despite all these qualifications, you should read this book. Moral ambiguity is everywhere here. These characters are all more complex than they appear on the surface, and Ottessa Moshfegh's greatest strength as a writer is to make Eileen simultaneously repulsive and oddly sympathetic (to a degree). I was shocked by the ending. This is not a story for the feint at heart but it *is* a story for those who appreciate dark character studies. I'll definitely be reading more from the author.

Feb 17, 2017

“Furthermore, as is typical for any isolated, intelligent young person, I thought I was the only one with any consciousness, any awareness of how odd it was to be alive, to be a creature on this strange planet Earth.”

Eileen is unquestionably one of the oddest and quirkiest characters I’ve come across. When I say quirkiest- I don’t mean bubbly, outgoing and cheerleader on the side of the yard. I mean quirk as in she’s so absorbed in her own little niches and clicks. Not in an OCD way, but in a way that Eileen would win medals in self-loathing, sexual repression, and body dismorphic thoughts.

She works at a local prison by day as a secretary, silently judging all her coworkers, and by night she lives in a decrepit house with her alcoholic father. Exciting, right? One day, a new young gal named Rebecca joins the prison staff- she’s beautiful, intelligent, and overall intriguing to Eileen. She’s not so sweet as she seems with something a little too thrilling to Eileen- to the point causing Eileen to leave X-Ville.

This one is definitely a character-oriented novel with nothing crazy cool happening till the last 60 pages or so. What kept me invested in this tale honestly was wanting to know what the big hullabaloo was about. I feel like people will genuinely like this book for Otessa’s really good writing and characterization, or they will dislike it for it’s lack of plot, brooding and repressive tone, and slow burn reveal.

Overall though- kinda glad I did read it, but at the same time I didn’t gain anything new except for understanding the author’s writing style and adding another character-driven novel to my “read” list. It felt like I had witnessed a car accident, and so therefore I had to stay behind and see what would happen next. I would recommend this one to readers who enjoy: character driven novels, melancholic and passive characters, slow-burner plots, and gloomier tones.

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Jun 27, 2018

jjwoodard thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Apr 07, 2017

daysleeper236 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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