Coronavirus lockdown has finally reached the UK, so it looks like we’ll be very much in our homes, getting drunk in front of the laptop in the name of "Digital Pints", and trying not to strangle our cohabiters for the foreseeable future. Maybe like me, you expected that a scary and upsetting lockdown might have the very tiny silver lining of bringing opportunities for untold self-improvement – developing a deeply Zen meditation habit, for example, or painting at a makeshift easel – only to have found yourself railing The Sims b2b three-hour stints of Schitt’s Creek.
Not to fear: let us be here for each other in attempting to balance our ever-expanding need for escapism with a small and soothing bit of brain exercise. Following the roaring success of our Corona Film Club, we are now bringing you: Corona Book Club.
For the inaugural book, we’ve chosen Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation, which follows a protagonist who experiments with prescription drugs in order to sleep for an entire year, set against a backdrop of New York before 9/11. It is "big self-isolation vibes", and therefore a natural choice with lots of links to our current predicament. The idea is that we all read a chapter or two over the course of the same week, review it via email, and then read the collective responses in a new blog post on vice dot com every Wednesday.
If you’d like to follow along and/or contribute for Week One, here’s how:
1) Get your copy of the book. The online book retailer Hive – which works and supplies orders via independent high street book stores – is still delivering. You can download the book for Kindle via Hive, too.
2) Read Chapter One of My Year of Rest and Relaxation at your leisure.
3) Review it for us before 12PM on Tuesday the 31st of March, and then email that review to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve included some prompts below to get you going.
a) What do you make of the protagonist and how Moshfegh introduces her?
b) What about the style of the narration? It’s fairly cold and detached – how does that make you feel when you’re reading it?
c) How do you feel about Reva and how she’s presented? And about her relationship with the protagonist?
d) What’s the effect of time (both in terms of the time period, and literal days, weeks, etc.) feeling so vague here?
e) What do you think of the New York that’s figured here (bodegas, proto-softbois, finance jerks, the art world)?
f) Sleep is an important part of the narrative. What does it symbolise here?
g) Does this chapter and intro give us any insight into Our Current Moment?
4) Read the first round-up and get the prompts for Week Two on Wednesday the 1st of April.
Hopefully this might coax you out of spending 12 hours a day on Animal Crossing. Might.
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.