My Year of Rest and Relaxation / Ottessa Moshfegh

ColGray

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I was at a writing conference last weekend and an agent panel Sunday morning was asked, What book would you like to never see referenced as a comp again. All three listed this book-- which immediately made me pick it up.

I finished the book ~36 hours later. My Year of Rest and Relaxation captures the anger and guilt and self-loathing and doubt and waves and despair inherent in grieving better than any book I've read. I couldn't put it down. It basks in Salinger-esque navel gazing and then plucks out hairy lint and laughs at the absurdity. It hammers at oblivion and vain attempts at growth and delights as it calls attention to the train's light flickering down the tunnel shaft.

Legitimately hilarious and moving, My Year of Rest and Relaxation is exceptional.
 
What book would you like to never see referenced as a comp again.
I don't understand what is meant by this.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation captures the anger and guilt and self-loathing and doubt and waves and despair inherent in grieving better than any book I've read. I couldn't put it down. It basks in Salinger-esque navel gazing and then plucks out hairy lint and laughs at the absurdity. It hammers at oblivion and vain attempts at growth and delights as it calls attention to the train's light flickering down the tunnel shaft.
Thanks for rec, but... a literary exploration of depression - it doesn't exactly sound inviting! I had a look at Goodreads, and there seem to be as many 1 star reviews (such as "I xxxxxxx hated this book") as there are 5 star reviews.
 
I don't understand what is meant by this.
Sorry -- it was probably specific to the conference. When you're trad-publishing and querying agents you include comps -- comparable books--to give a sense of style/theme/audience. The agents were saying, We know that a lot of people love this book, but please use something else. I then took this as, So many people read this and were inspired enough to list it as one of 3 comps in their query letter?? It must be good.

Thanks for rec, but... a literary exploration of depression - it doesn't exactly sound inviting! I had a look at Goodreads, and there seem to be as many 1 star reviews (such as "I xxxxxxx hated this book") as there are 5 star reviews.
It's an exploration of depression and grief in the same way that Catcher in the Rye is an exploration of truth and self-image -- yes, it is, but also, it isn't. The MC never talks about depression and when she talks about grief, it isn't her discussing her grief, it's about someone else being whiny. I wouldn't be surprised if some people read it and thought, This is a dumb book about someone eating ambien like popcorn!

I can absolutely see it not being for everyone--it isn't a happy-go-lucky story, her best friend is bulimic, there's some graphic bits about her much older boyfriend and 9/11 looms over the story.

That said, it is wonderful.
 

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