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2016 Longlist [MBP] > Eileen by Otessa Moshfegh

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Maxwell (welldonebooks) | 375 comments Mod
Discussing Eileen by Otessa Moshfegh.


message 2: by P. (new) - rated it 3 stars

P. (yapn) Eileen was a very engaging read. Thriller is a wrong way to describe it. With an unpleasant primary character I guess Eileen may not be everyone's cup of tea. It's a very dark book & an impressive debut!


Maxwell (welldonebooks) | 375 comments Mod
Eileen's characters was my favorite part of this book. She was totally unlikeable and also unlike another I'd read before. But I found the story to be slow and not very compelling. I would've rather had this been a short story or novella to compact the events and give it a more suspenseful tone. Everything just felt too dragged out. I will say that Moshfegh has created a really interesting character in Eileen though, one that I don't feel is written about a lot. I appreciated that aspect but wasn't engaged enough in the plot to care much more than that.


message 4: by Britta (last edited Aug 01, 2016 03:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Britta Böhler | 314 comments Mod
Maxwell wrote: "Eileen's characters was my favorite part of this book. She was totally unlikeable and also unlike another I'd read before. But I found the story to be slow and not very compelling. I would've rathe..."

Ah, pity... I had high hopes for this one!


Britta Böhler | 314 comments Mod
Maybe it will change when I've read more ( I am about 25% in) but so far I dont think Eileen is unlikeable or unpleasant at all. She sees herself that way, yes, but all I see so far is a sad, unhappy young woman.


Malvina (malvina85) | 15 comments I read Eileen in February and didn't love it. For some reason, the writing didn't suck me in at all. I thought Eileen as a character was interesting but the writing itself felt like a chore. I think I'm in the minority in this one because most people really liked this book.


message 7: by Britta (last edited Aug 02, 2016 10:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Britta Böhler | 314 comments Mod
I've just finished Eileen, and I liked it well enough. I thought the first half was very promising, and I really loved the character study of Eileen. But after that the book began to drag, too many repetitions (sometimes even literally, sentences which were repeted twice or three times, hellooo editor?). And the story was less convincing than the character study.
Still, as a debut from a beginning writer the book was quite impressive and I can see why this new voice is on the Man Booker longlist but I would be rather surprised if it made the shortlist.


Maxwell (welldonebooks) | 375 comments Mod
Britta wrote: "Maybe it will change when I've read more ( I am about 25% in) but so far I dont think Eileen is unlikeable or unpleasant at all. She sees herself that way, yes, but all I see so far is a sad, unhap..."

I think I should clarify what I meant by unlikeable. I definitely sympathized with her before, and I felt like her narration was really endearing in a sort of sick way. I guess I mean she isn't someone I'd like to know. But I enjoyed reading about her if that makes sense.

Potential spoiler below:

Also did it bother anyone else that she constantly said things like "little did I know that 'x' was about to happen" or "it was only two days until I'd leave and never come back" etc.

I just kept waiting and waiting for it to get to the crux of the story, and it happened SO late in the narrative. It was really irksome.


Britta Böhler | 314 comments Mod
Maxwell wrote: "Britta wrote: "Maybe it will change when I've read more ( I am about 25% in) but so far I dont think Eileen is unlikeable or unpleasant at all. She sees herself that way, yes, but all I see so far ..."

Yes, these repetitive clues bothered me as well. I mean, you can say it once, maybe twice but then its enough, right?
*SPOILER ALERT!!*
And I was wondering: how did you feel about Mrs. Polk's death? Did Eileen feel any remorse, and also: why did she do it?


Maxwell (welldonebooks) | 375 comments Mod
Britta wrote: "Maxwell wrote: "Britta wrote: "Maybe it will change when I've read more ( I am about 25% in) but so far I dont think Eileen is unlikeable or unpleasant at all. She sees herself that way, yes, but a..."

Britta, I'll hide my remarks in a spoiler tag below.

(view spoiler)


Britta Böhler | 314 comments Mod
Maxwell wrote: "Britta wrote: "Maxwell wrote: "Britta wrote: "Maybe it will change when I've read more ( I am about 25% in) but so far I dont think Eileen is unlikeable or unpleasant at all. She sees herself that ..."

I agree, Rebecca's motivations remain unclear, her character stays very flat, not fleshed out enough to understand her, and I was disappointed by that as well. And re Mrs. Polk:
(view spoiler)


message 12: by Kay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kay | 71 comments I just finished this book and while the repetitions were annoying, I enjoyed the book quite a lot. I found Eileen herself fascinating. It is so refreshing to see such a disturbing and dirty woman just reveling in her own filth :) I didn't have any problem with the pacing, because I thought it showed so clearly the monotony of her life, and why she wanted to leave. (view spoiler)


message 13: by Doug (new) - rated it 2 stars

Doug | 78 comments My two star review (from Sept. 2015):

My impetus for reading this was a rave from Bill Clegg, who I believe was the agent who sold it to Penguin... and whose Booker nominated first novel I really loved. Well, Clegg's own writing is much better than his taste. This is a slow, plodding, repetitious short novel that MIGHT have worked better as a short story. The story doesn't really get going till the book is nearly done, and the 'shocking' revelation has been done many times before. Eileen herself is an intriguing character (think Mia Wasikowska in any of her more oddball film roles), but her story just plods on and on and on...


Maxwell (welldonebooks) | 375 comments Mod
Doug wrote: "My two star review (from Sept. 2015):

My impetus for reading this was a rave from Bill Clegg, who I believe was the agent who sold it to Penguin... and whose Booker nominated first novel I really ..."


Wow that casting of Mia Wasikowska is perfect! And I agree, would've probably loved this as a short story or novella. Not a full-length novel.


message 15: by Neil (new) - rated it 2 stars

Neil | 511 comments I finished this earlier today and I find myself firmly in the "dull as dishwater" camp, unfortunately. I could forgive the long, slow build up if it generated tension that led to a brilliant finale. But, sadly, I found no tension and a disappointing ending.

(view spoiler)


message 16: by Kathe (last edited Aug 19, 2016 02:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kathe Coleman | 46 comments **Spoiler: I have given a brief overview of the book along with my review so please don’t read if you don’t like to know about the plot before you read. Happy reading.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
The genre is Black Noir but if black noir is not your genre then this book is not for you. Eileen Dunlop, now seventy-four tells the story of her twenty-four-year old self, a disturbed and deeply-neurotic women who works at a boy’s prison in the 1960s. The setting is a working-class town in New England referred to as X-Ville and it is a town frozen and without character. Eileen is caregiver for her abusive alcoholic father who also suffers from dementia. She desperately wants to go to New York and leave her father and the miserable town of X-Ville. Things begin changing when Eileen meets the gorgeous new prison director, Rebecca, and soon become totally infatuated with her and spirals on the path to inevitable change. This is a novel that is dark and depressive yet tells the very sad story of a young women suffering from body issues among a mired of other mental disturbances. There are surprises as the plot evolves and we see Eileen and Rebecca’s relationship unfolds. Written well but for sure not everyone’s cup of tea.


Robert | 363 comments So far I'm 60 pages into the book and enjoying it! Style-wise it's quite similar to Shirley Jackson: creepy but slightly innocent. I'm getting quite a Gothic vibe from the novel. Funnily enough I'm not finding it slow at all, I'm just letting the words envelope me.

As for the character of Eileen, I see her (at this point) as both an underdog and a schemer and I like that!


message 18: by Kay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kay | 71 comments Robert wrote: "So far I'm 60 pages into the book and enjoying it! Style-wise it's quite similar to Shirley Jackson: creepy but slightly innocent. I'm getting quite a Gothic vibe from the novel. Funnily enough I'm..."

Robert, that's a great description - "both an underdog and a schemer!"


Robert | 363 comments Finished this and I really liked it - I'm a sucker for dark, Gothic novels . I liked the characters, plot, general eeriness and the ending was pretty good too! An all rounder for me.


Ernie (ewnichols) | 66 comments I'm not sure if anyone has read or heard the following, but I wanted to share a brief interview with the judges (Amanda Foreman (Chair) and Abdulrazak Gurnah) on why books on the longlist made the longlist.

Ottessa Moshfegh (US) - Eileen (Jonathan Cape)
“It’s Raymond Carver meets Sylvia Plath, leaving the reader slightly shaken and brilliantly creeped out.”
Gurnah: Eileen has, again, a dark core to it. I think at the heart of it is a story of abuse, but also there is something energetic and sometimes joyous about this attempt to rescue, or to somehow redeem, the situation. Although its subject is a bit gloomy, but actually, it’s a book that makes you feel good as you read it.


Craig Rimmer | 33 comments I agree with Kathe and Robert on this. Funnily enough I don't normally like dark novels but in the character development, I found this book had the honesty of a Margaret Atwood book as it compared the outlook on body image of a young woman versus a woman in later life. I see this book as a potential winner but have eight more from the list to read. Loved it from start through the middle tithe end.

Spoiler Alert


Definitely agree, the Death of Mrs Polk was about escaping XVille and her life and was also Eileen's death and her rebirth as Lena. Eileen could have become Mrs Polk. She understood the putting up with her husband sexually abusing her son just to get her living relationship back. What was Eileen prepared to do for the love of Rebecca or Randy, who she had been stalking? Now the 74 year old Lena/Eileen/Whoever loves and respects herself.

Unlikeable? I think she is an excellent anti-hero/heroine


lisa_emily | 10 comments Kathe wrote: "**Spoiler: I have given a brief overview of the book along with my review so please don’t read if you don’t like to know about the plot before you read. Happy reading.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
T..."


Is there such a thing as White Noir? Just curious.


lisa_emily | 10 comments Ernie wrote: "I'm not sure if anyone has read or heard the following, but I wanted to share a brief interview with the judges (Amanda Foreman (Chair) and Abdulrazak Gurnah) on why books on the longlist made the ..."

Thanks for sharing this- it was the most intelligent thing on this board so far; an actual analysis of the story as opposed to whether it was likeable or not.


Kylie | 6 comments This book is brilliant. It perfectly captures the thoughts and feelings of someone who grew up without adequate parenting. She has never been taught the basic skills of life that most people take for granted. She can't regulate her emotions, she can't critique her own thoughts, she has some insight but has no idea exactly how she is going wrong or how to fix it. She is just as damaged as the kids in the prison.
All she wants is to be loved and accepted - something most people get from parents. As soon as she thinks that someone likes her and understands her, she starts to change. She begins to grow as soon as she thinks that someone might like her. This is a woman with enormous potential and resilience.
This book has captured the bleakness of that reality so well.


Michelle (topaz6) This is a 3-star book for me, not the biggest fan of the big plot twist at the end or of Rebecca as a character, but I loved the character of Eileen! Very rarely do we get a female protagonist like that!

I did find myself thinking "this is the edgiest character I've ever read" at times, although that just contributes to my appreciation of her character.


Charlott (halfjill) | 39 comments I just finished Eileen yesterday and for me it was an okay read, but I was not totally won over. On the one hand I love me a good anti-heroine. I do think that there so many characters laudeted as anti-heros, but with women it is always more complicated. But on the other hand I was just not gripped. Everytime I put the book down, I felt not overly compelled to pick it up again.

Regarding the "edgy" character. I feel like it was a trend in the recent 10-15 years in German literature to have young women writing about young women characters - involving lots of "real talk" and body fluids, so may be that took the edgyness away for me.


Kathe Coleman | 46 comments lisa_emily wrote: "Kathe wrote: "**Spoiler: I have given a brief overview of the book along with my review so please don’t read if you don’t like to know about the plot before you read. Happy reading.

Eileen by Otte..."

No I don't think so since noir is black in French.


Robert | 363 comments I just read an amazing review of Eileen on Goodreads. The reviewer compared the book to a Smiths song. Brilliant


lisa_emily | 10 comments Robert wrote: "I just read an amazing review of Eileen on Goodreads. The reviewer compared the book to a Smiths song. Brilliant"
reading your comment- these lyrics popped into mind:

Shyness is nice and
Shyness can stop you
From doing all the things in life
You'd like to


Robert | 363 comments Coincidentally, that's the song that flashed in my ind as well. (plus it is my fave ever Smiths song)


LindaJ^ (lindajs) I found the book repulsive and disgusting and wished I had not been so intrigued by the very differing GR reviews to read it! I will say that Eileen was well-developed character. She really repulsed me and then I felt guilty for being repulsed because her life was such a disaster and her parents so bad at parenting. Rebecca, however, seems to have been introduced merely to move the story to conclusion, as there is little to no development of her character.


David | 40 comments Oh I sense this will be unpopular, but I loved this book and of the 7 longlist books I've read, this is my favourite...dare I even suggest it's a contender? Eileen's character is definitely cringeworthy, but I loved her obsessive behaviour, her stalking of Randy, her blind infatuation of Rebecca, the assumption of her crime, the naivety of the community etc etc. So much so, it's the only nominee this year that I can't wait to read again as I actually think it packs a lot in, and there is more hidden in the apparent mediocrity of the first 80% of the book. Plus I want to count how many bottles of gin she went through!


Robert | 363 comments I think if you're repulsed and disgusted then the book did it's job as that is how you're supposed to feel - at first anyways because *spoiler* Eileen does conform to our standards as shes says throughout the book.


Maxwell (welldonebooks) | 375 comments Mod
That's a great point, Robert. Even though I didn't really like the book, I think the author did an excellent job in what she was trying to do. It just didn't work well with my tastes. But I commend her for what she crafted.


message 35: by Kay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kay | 71 comments I agree with you both, Robert and David. Eileen was supposed to be cringe-worthy. This was my favorite aspect of the book - I have not read another story about a disgusting woman who tries to manipulate people around her but is also having such a hard life, and you both dislike and root for her.


Britta Böhler | 314 comments Mod
Its really interesting that so many readers find Eileen cringeworthy and/or disgusting. I think she believes that herself (as a character), and because we only see Eileen through her own eyes the reader is made to see her that way. But I wonder how much of that is simply due to her self loathing and low self esteem and how much is 'objectively' true. For me that was one of the most fascinating aspects of the novel, because I believe that Eileen, seen from a third person viewpoint is actually quite 'normal'. I also wondered whether Moshfegh thought it was necessary to make the reader feel so disgusted by Eileen. To make her actions more believable maybe?


Robert | 363 comments hmmm maybe it's to show how the book's final event changed her??? just a theory though.


lisa_emily | 10 comments Britta wrote: "Its really interesting that so many readers find Eileen cringeworthy and/or disgusting. I think she believes that herself (as a character), and because we only see Eileen through her own eyes the r..."

I was thinking how visceral many reader's reactions to be the main character. But I think you are right in that in the external view, Eileen would come across as some sort of dull, nondescript young woman. I think the writer sets that up in the beginning. Yet, because as a reader, we are intimate with her inner maelstrom- and perhaps the writer is also trying to point out that any boring-seeming person could be filled with a possibility of violence and rage.

On an other note, has anyone on this board read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier? I feel like this story exists are a sort of parallel story to the Rebecca novel. In fact, the one common theme I find in the books on the long-list so far is that each book I've read so far references some other book. Maybe all books written nowadays do this.....


message 39: by Neil (new) - rated it 2 stars

Neil | 511 comments lisa_emily wrote: "In fact, the one common theme I find in the books on the long-list so far is that each book I've read so far references some other book. Maybe all books written nowadays do this....."

And in "Do Not Say We Have Nothing", we read "Is art the creation of something new and original or simply the continuous enlargement, or the distillation, of an observation that came before?"


David | 40 comments That’s a really good point Britta about Eileen’s cringe-worthy behaviour maybe being associated with her own self opinion rather than 3rd hand perspective which may be more normal...you might be on to something there! ** possible spoiler ** Do Randy or Rebecca ever detect how she feels about them which they surely would otherwise if her outward persona was repulsive? Ultimately, does she do anything terrible in the end that would be expected from a character that you should not like?
I’ve also read Rebecca and absolutely loved it…I can see where you’re coming from, as Eileen undergoes a growth in confidence like the second Mrs de Winter does, although perhaps without the author injecting as much grit and raw description into the storyline. There are a lot of parallels though alright.


Julianne Quaine | 35 comments I've just started Eileen and rather enjoying it. I like the internal dialogue which contrasts strongly with her appearance, at least her description of her appearance anyway - we really don't know


message 42: by Di (new) - rated it 2 stars

Di S (di_s) I've just finished this and unfortunately didn't rate it at all.

I accept that the author has successfully created a thoroughly unlikeable and unpleasant protagonist, but I don't find the writing particularly rich or engaging and the structure and pacing of the storyline was an issue.
The most exciting part comes virtually at the end, and everything that followed felt contrived, clumsy and hurried.

It seems that these days only the grey, grim and grittiest books make it onto the ManBooker list?
This feels like it was written with the intention of being as shocking and vile as possible and in fact a Guardian interview with the author seems to confirm this!

Not for me, this one.


message 43: by Paul (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) Di wrote: "This feels like it was written with the intention of being as shocking and vile as possible and in fact a Guardian interview with the author seems to confirm this!"

Yes that Guardian interview is quite eye opening - sample quote:
‘ it started out as a f***-you joke, also I’m broke, also I want to be famous.’

https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...

see also http://review.gawker.com/a-necessary-...

Normally author interviews increase my appreciation, one realises how much effort goes into any novel. But this one had the opposite effect. That Eileen the character is unpleasant does not bother me at all, indeed I liked the character, but that the novelist seems to admit to writing a deliberately not very well done noir novel as a kind of f-you to readers ...


David | 40 comments Well, the author certainly seems to be a potentially controversial character, American and neither currently the bookies favourite nor top of the Goodreads favourites..... sounds like a sure-fire Booker Prize winner to me!! Although by the sounds of those articles, she mightn't even show up to the announcement ceremony!


message 45: by Di (new) - rated it 2 stars

Di S (di_s) She seems to have toned down her comments in this latest interview for the Guardian - has turned her novel into an experiment with the classic three act structure...
https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...

Perhaps her agent/ publisher did some media training!


message 46: by Paul (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) Di wrote: "Perhaps her agent/ publisher did some media training!
."


Indeed - she was charming and humorous in person at the shortlist readings last night. Much to my surprise, the author I most warmed to.


Robert | 363 comments How was the event? :)


message 48: by Di (new) - rated it 2 stars

Di S (di_s) Paul - that's interesting. I'm very jealous you made it to the readings. I went last year and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Last night I was just too jet lagged as I'd just returned from NYC, so reluctantly had to give it a miss.
Do tell us how it was - who came across well? Who do you think will win?


message 49: by Di (new) - rated it 2 stars

Di S (di_s) Paul - that's interesting. I'm very jealous you made it to the readings. I went last year and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Last night I was just too jet lagged as I'd just returned from NYC, so reluctantly had to give it a miss.
Do tell us how it was. Who came across well? Who do you think will win?


message 50: by Paul (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) I posted some comments over on the general discussion thread
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

I thought Moshfegh came across particularly well, and I was impressed by Levy. But someone else who was there over on the Mookse & Gripes Group had a very different view of Levy and was most impressed by Macrae Burnet.

Beatty (most surprisingly), Szalay and Thein were all rather subdued in the main event, but the host didn't help with some rather silly questions. Ultimately they are writers not talkers, and the host needs to draw them out.


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