Eileen

Eileen

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
1594206627
Characteristics: 260 pages

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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.

d
daysleeper236
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.

t
taylorwoods
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.

a
abcDena
Jan 31, 2017

This is one of the most unsettling books, raising really uncomfortable questions about victimhood & victimization. Read Moshfegh with a glass of wine, otherwise Eileen can come off sounding like an over-wrought MFA piece. It reminds me of Plath's sterile East-coast master-slave narratives (which I actually love) and slow-mo self-destruction.

There are some reallllllly disturbing parts in this book. Be warned. I don't want to say too much, except read it, or don't.

h
hamberger
Jan 04, 2017

This book is only about 250 pages. After about 150 pages I was wondering when something would happen. I almost stopped reading, but I kept thinking, "no, something interesting will happen soon." On about page 220, something interesting finally happened. But it was just kinda gross and disturbing and overall, I just didn't really like this book.

n
njon38
Dec 31, 2016

Short listed for the Mann Booker prize, this American writer of Croatian and Iranian descent writes beautiful sentences about a pitiable, self absorbed neurotic the eponymous Eileen. This is all about character with little plot and in my opinion a weak denouement. Worth the read for the prose.

Amy_MarkhamPL Dec 08, 2016

I adored this. It's dark, funny, slightly sinister and unsettling. Eileen is a unique and fully realized character, and Moshfegh's is an exciting new voice in fiction.

u
uncommonreader
Oct 30, 2016

This book has no redeeming qualities. An older woman narrates her own story as a damaged and disturbed 24 year old working in a boy's prison in New England who meets a privileged new co-worker who brings a liberal sensibility to the situation of the young boy prisoners. It fails as a thriller - unbelievable and illogical. It fails as a character study - Eileen is all description of the outward manifestations of an alienated woman without any insight into why she is this way.

z
zoemulford
Oct 19, 2016

Amazing!! I usually really dislike novels and fiction writing but I absolutely LOVED this book. The writing is so incredible and so addicting. When I wasn't reading this book, I was thinking about it. It's a weird little book, but weird in all the right ways. Honestly, this book is the best fiction story I've read in a VERY long time.

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daysleeper236
Apr 07, 2017

daysleeper236 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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