Friday 9 June 2023

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

260 pages, Paperback

Published: August 16, 2016 by Penguin Books

Lit fiction


Mosfegh writes very flawed heroines. Or maybe I should just call them real. Real life people who are dark and strange.

Eileen lives with her alcoholic dad. A shitty house. She drinks too, talks about her bowel movements. Has some really effed up thoughts.

It is dark, it is grey, bleak and her life is shit really.

Mostly we follow her under a week. Then she leaves. I would like to see what happened next. What she became. But more things need to be hellish first.

Strangely compelling

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.


  1. "Come on Eileen"


    "talks about her bowel movements"

    Seriously though that last line in the synopsis. I kinda want to know what they do????

    1. I did not see it coming, and at the same time I was not surprised

  2. While it sounds interesting I don't think it's for me.

  3. Interesting. Surprised it wasn't too bleak for you!

    1. Maybe I was just in the right mood for it

  4. I'm all for dark, strangely compelling reads!

  5. I have been curious about this one since I first saw it. It sounds like I might like it.

  6. Sounds kind of depressing! Glad it was interesting enough to keep your attention and make you want to read the next one.

    1. Sure, it was not the happiest of books. But there was just something, a freaking trainwreck happening



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