So here we are. My name was Eileen Dunlop. Now you knowme. I was twenty-four years old then, and had a job that paidfifty-seven dollars a week as a kind of secretary at a privatejuvenile correctional facility for teenage boys. Read more...
So here we are. My name was Eileen Dunlop. Now you knowme. I was twenty-four years old then, and had a job that paidfifty-seven dollars a week as a kind of secretary at a privatejuvenile correctional facility for teenage boys. I think of it nowas what it really was for all intents and purposes a prison forboys. I will call it Moorehead. Delvin Moorehead was a terriblelandlord I had years later, and so to use his name for such a placefeels 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 EileenDunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed youngwoman trapped between her role as her alcoholicfather s caretaker in a home whose squalor isthe talk of the neighborhood and a day job as asecretary at the boys prison, filled with its ownquotidian horrors. Consumed by resentmentand self-loathing, Eileen tempers her dreary dayswith perverse fantasies and dreams of escaping tothe big city. In the meantime, she fills her nightsand weekends with shoplifting, stalking a buffprison guard named Randy, and cleaning up herincreasingly deranged father s messes. When thebright, beautiful, and cheery Rebecca Saint Johnarrives on the scene as the new counselor atMoorehead, Eileen is enchanted and proves unableto resist what appears at first to be a miraculouslybudding friendship. In a Hitchcockian twist, heraffection for Rebecca ultimately pulls her intocomplicity in a crime that surpasses her wildestimaginings.
Played out against the snowy landscape ofcoastal New England in the days leading up toChristmas, young Eileen s story is told from thegimlet-eyed perspective of the now much oldernarrator. Creepy, mesmerizing, and sublimelyfunny, in the tradition of Shirley Jackson andearly Vladimir Nabokov, this powerful debutnovel enthralls and shocks, and introduces oneof the most original new voices in contemporaryliterature."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-05-11
- Reviewer: Staff
Winner of both the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize and a Stegner Fellowship, Moshfegh moves beyond her previous short fiction achievements with this dark and unnerving debut novel. In 1964, Eileen Dunlop is 24 years old, living with her cruel, alcoholic father, and working at Moorehead, a juvenile detention center for boys. She also spends a lot of time hating herself (“I looked like nothing special”) and plotting her exodus from the small New England town where she’s been trapped. Eileen’s perspective is one of hindsight, some 50 years later, looking back on her final days of quiet, isolated misery before the rest of her life begins, a very different life we know will happen without knowing much more. The book’s opening evokes a stark kind of empathy for Eileen, who is extreme in her oddness and aversion to personal hygiene, but still quite likable. Unfortunately, some 100 pages in, she is still announcing her imminent departure. As the claustrophobia and filth of her circumstances become more suffocating over the course of the novel, they seem more redundant than effective. With the arrival of the mysterious Rebecca, an alleged education specialist at Moorehead, Eileen’s momentum (and the narrative’s) finally picks up somewhat, although it will still feel stagnant to some readers. (Aug.)