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Eileen
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Eileen

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Author: Ottessa Moshfegh
Publisher: Penguin Books, 2015
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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Horror
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Synopsis

The Christmas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed young woman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father's carer in his squalid home and her 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 handsome prison guard named Randy, and cleaning up her increasingly deranged father's messes. When the beautiful, charismatic Rebecca Saint John arrives on the scene as the new counselor at the prison, Eileen is enchanted and unable to resist what appears 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, blending true noir and the eerie, unforgettable books of Shirley Jackson and Flannery O'Connor, this mesmeric, terrifying, sublimely funny debut novel enthralls and shocks, and introduces one of the most original new voices in contemporary literature.


Excerpt

I'll never forget that bright jangle of the bell over the liquor store door, since it rang for me nearly every evening. Lardner's Liquors. I loved that store. It was warm and orderly in there, and I wandered the aisles for as long as I could, pretending to browse. I knew, of course, where the gin was kept: Center aisle on the right if you're facing the cashier, a few feet from the back wall, and just two shelves of it, Beefeater on top and Seagram's below it. Mr. Lewis who worked there was so gentle and happy, as though it had never occurred to him just what all that liquor was for. I got the gin, paid, and went back to the car, laid the bottles on the passenger's seat. How odd it is that liquor never freezes. It was the one thing in that place that simply refused the cold. I shivered in the Dodge, turned the key, and drove home. I took the long and scenic route as the darkness fell, I remember.

My father was in his chair when I got home. Nothing special happened that night. It's just a place to begin. I set the bottles down within his reach on the floor and crumpled the paper bag in my fist as I walked up to the attic. I read my magazine. I went to bed.

So here we are. My name was Eileen Dunlop. Now you know me. I was twentyfour 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.

Copyright © 2015 by Ottessa Moshfegh


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