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The Babysitter at Rest

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  575 ratings  ·  94 reviews
“I had to judge a story contest of 600+ anonymous stories and I read each one and without hesitation Jen George’s story was my favourite. I’m so happy this collection exists. I feel drunk with love for these stories. They’re so funny and weird and true.”—Sheila Heti

“With a weird, beautiful energy, George explores the challenges of woman-being: singlehood, self-doubt, mothe
Paperback, First Edition, 168 pages
Published October 17th 2016 by Dorothy, a publishing project
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I would compare Jen George's stories to remembering a dream, or being inside a surrealist painting. Her characters feel to me like ordinary people who, when dropped into bizarre situations, adapt accordingly, just carrying on as if everything's normal. The result is a disconcerting yet beguiling blend of the mundane and the ludicrous.

Guidance / The Party
Q: What takes the place of looks?
A: Invisibility, irrelevance, debt, and unsuccessful stabs at saving to buy real estate.
A 33-year-old woman
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Jen von G
Another one from my Dorothy Publishing Project pile (which I purchased, so not a product placement). I had put this one aside but decided to finish it during the 24in48 readathon.

Suffice to say, this was not really the book for me. Uncomfortable sexuality combined with the surreal. I can see how that would appeal to some readers. The four stories in the collection are made up of much shorter snippets and blurbs that make for a disjointed reading experience, which seems to be the point.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the weirdest books I've read this year. Its five stories feel like their own perverse little worlds. Like Ben Marcus if he was re-writing Georges Bataille. The dialogue is bonkers, frequently jarring in its sexual torque. Not sure who Jen George is, but she'll be legendary if she keeps making books (though I could also picture her as a filmmaker or conceptual artist). ...more
Nate D
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: babysitters in (r/d)ecline
Recommended to Nate D by: the present millenium
An awkward familiarity, a dismally accurate assessment of contemporary moments, surrealized into the generality and iconic signs of a dream. There's a kind of oneiric illogic to the actual synopsis at times as well, but George integrates these moments into total naturalness. I get a bit of that nagging 'Is this how my era will be remembered?' sensation, to which the answers may be 'Yes' and 'It is deserved'.

As a debut work, this is an extremely impressive one. (It would be impressive as a work
Polly Bresnick
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book grabbed me right away with its strange little hands and did not let go. The combinations of darkness and light, high-brow art stuff and scatology, horror and humor were just the right fit for me. Reminded me of Miranda July and David Lynch and Tim Heidecker/Eric Wareheim.
Monica Westin
Oct 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Brilliant sentence by sentence; provocative story by story; and repetitive and one-note as a collection.
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, small-press
Jen George's characters are mired in depravity and dissolution disguised as desire. Impossible situations, gallows humor and fondness for catalogs bring Stanley Crawford's Log of the S.S. Mrs. Unguentine to mind. I kept seeing the scenes as they might appear in a painting by John Terahteeff where beautiful figures languish as violence lurks.

Jaclyn Crupi
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Such surreal, weird and wonderful short stories. If you're a fan of Heti, Ball, Kleeman, July, Kang and Schiff then you need to encounter Jen George. I only wish the first story, Guidance / The Party, appeared later in the collection. ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Unusual, alien of a book. I think I liked it
Rachel B. Glaser
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bravo to Jen George who writes with irreverent freedom and does what she wants! At times, these stories reminded me of Jane Bowles and Lucinella by Lore Segal, but mostly George writes like herself, exploring the bizarre, the erotic, the tragic--the random human mess. These stories aren't for everyone, and there are gratuitous moments, and sometimes a feeling of being stuck in a beautiful, deadly lagoon, but I found this book inspiring, especially the first story, and can't wait to read more fro ...more
Alexandrea Jarvis
I’m no where near smart enough for this... gave up on page 81
Peter McCambridge
May 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is ok. I don't know, I think we go into every piece of contemporary fiction expecting each book to be a) a modern classic and b) completely different to anything we've ever read before. This book in particular grates because it's lauded for being so different to everything else that's out there when you can't turn round at the minute without hitting a book that has the same style and themes. It’s been done before. It reads like a McSweeney's piece that drags on for too long. Although I'm no ...more
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
In these evil and weird times I am sometimes at a loss to know what sort of art / film / literature can even really talk back and comment upon the very weird and the so evil. Some of the stories here show a way forward with it. Surreal in places, always disorienting, frequently crass in ways that are not mere shock but rather communicate the deeper emptiness of America Now. Often really funny, too.

Jen George is a talent with something to say.
Jessica Potter
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Strange with a sense of familiarity, sometimes even made me lol. The last story is my least favorite and loses me at points but overall this was an amazing time.
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
i suppose the barthelme comparisons are apt, but with insight focused on the nastiness of patriarchy and a much less evasive handling of sex.
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

Each story felt like being inside someone else’s dream, but I could feel the hints of reality that the author was analyzing, commenting on, being cynical/sarcastic/humorous about, and I think that was the best part.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
first two stories were too amazing that the rest can't keep up ...more
Jenny Chisnell
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A quick read. A WEIRD one! Absurdly surreal, yet containing its own uncanny internal logic. I absolutely loved it, but I think this book is--not simply "not for everyone," but, rather--not really for MANY at ALL. Lol. Try the first 10 pages or so to get a sense of the style and see if you can handle it ^_^ (Note: is highly pornographic to the point of repulsiveness. Think Burroughs through a female lens? Again: couldn't put it down, myself...) ...more
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book maintains a tone of total absurdity and anxiety stemming from being a woman. Here's a passage that I found particularly hilarious, and unfortunately very close to the truth:


"I'm not sure how I should act," The Host confides to a guest's child as they wait for the bathroom. The Host had not anticipated children and has no appropriate activities or distractions for the child, but has hopes the child, a boy, may be able to get her a job in fifteen to twenty years.
"Me either," t
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Masturbation, sex, assholes, fucking, cake, failure, death and dying. These are the ingredients of Jen George’s stories as they appear in the young writer’s debut collection. At their best (“The Babysitter at Rest”) they present an entertaining fantasy world where funny and bad things happen. At their worst, they are essentially garbage. Didn’t finish.
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I laughed, but I didn't cry. I did feel despair!

No, I am not sticking my head in the oven to check on dinner.
Faiza Sattar
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, short-stories
★★★★☆ (4/5)

Another surreal read, Jen George’s “The Babysitter at Rest” is my fourth book from the Dorothy Project. This short collection of stories is bizarre to say the least - narrative threaded from streams-of-dream-like-state.

George’s characters assume the perversion of their world and play along the fantasies. A woman on the verge of adulthood is chastised by a Guide and coerced into self-improvement. Another woman is deathly sick, consecrated to a death bed, dedicated to her deep fantasies
Amy Gentry
Some of the funniest and most upsetting stories I have read in a while. I had to take a five-month break in the middle of reading them because I found the second story, the title story, so upsetting. It remains my least favorite; I'm sure it's good, but I've scrubbed it from my memory so I can't really say.

Broadly speaking, all the stories are about youngish women who feel themselves cruising toward middle age, and each explores a different nexus of perceived failures of young and aging woman:
Carolyn DeCarlo
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Unabashedly and wholeheartedly. The stories fit together seamlessly, the voice and tone are extraordinary and wild, the title story is a freaking lark. I was hooked from the first page, and the only reason I didn't read it start to finish in one go was due to circumstances outside of my control. This has risen high on my list of favorite Dorothy Project books (just below Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead and Fra Keeler, just above Dan and Creature), though each one I have read ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jen George fucks plot. The Babysitter at Rest articulates the absurdity of the experience of a character who changes hats as we do: she is an artist, a sex object, a babysitter, a party host, a seeker of meaning in a vapid yet comedic society. No topic is safe to George: she writes about credit card debt, the pressure to bear children, fucking in all its ugliness and intimacy, the emptiness of parties, the loneliness of trend. Jen George fucks the concept of the page turner and makes a gorgeous ...more
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
"My daughter will be beautiful, though her value will not be determined by her looks. She will look good in clothing and without. She will be adored but respected. She will follow a clear life path, free of too many obstructions, full of loving and successful friends who wear beautiful dresses, have lovely parties in the desert or at the beach, and who have about them an airy lightness. She'll know how to go about getting what she wants. She will be capable. She will not have crying jags. She wi ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Despite your lack of intuition, you may have become aware of the following changes that signal the onset of adulthood: listening to others, doubting everything you think, health problems, understanding the limitations of time and/or life/living/the individual/experience, failure to believe in the inherent benevolence of the universe, frequent aches--head and otherwise--bad breath (rot and poor digestion), watching someone younger/more attractive be better than you socially and otherwise, crying ...more
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. The first story was incredible, 6/5!! I would read and reread this for the rest of my life. The second and third were eh, even the titular story, but the fourth and fifth brought it back again! The book started strong and finished strong but I could have done without the two middle stories, they depleted the magic of George’s writing to me.

George’s prose is surreal and hypnotic, it brings you into worlds you didn’t know exist, and makes you wonder how you can write yourself into thos
Matthijs Leest
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Tof, maar niet zo consistent in kwaliteit. Fijn eerste verhaal, sterk tweede titelverhaal, dan een inkakker om richting het einde van het laatste verhaal weer echt sterk te worden. Op die momenten is het boek prettig quirky, scherp en ik hou sowieso wel van postmoderniteit/existentialisme (met zelfs een als hoopvol te interpreteren einde: er is geen God meer nodig en na een langgerekte adolescentenfase met wat foute rolmodellen is er ook geen alternatief meer nodig; een mens kan zelf wel leven). ...more
Emily K.
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Grotesque, deadpan exaggerations in Kafkaesque hospitals and shared houses, full of bad sex, anxiety, and credit card debt. The floundering of femininity in all its fabulous strangeness, all its expectation and splendor, wanting to be a mother, wanting to be a good host, being a strange thing. These stories are as funny as they are yucky and yikes, this is what we've been given with our one wild life? Is that right? Well, the experts are dipshits afterall. ...more
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Jen George was born in Thousand Oaks, California. She lives and works in New York City. THE BABYSITTER AT REST (2016; Dorothy, a publishing project) is her first book.

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