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A.V. Club

Book Review: Deadpan and dark, The Babysitter At Rest is the best kind of unsettling

The stories in The Babysitter At Rest by Jen George follow the logic and tenor of a nightmare. Fears and truths hide within distorted images and exaggerated worry. Characters inhabit familiar yet off-balance worlds. In one story, a feckless 33-year-old is instructed on how to improve herself by a tequila-chugging, robe-wearing guide, because she’s failed to transition properly into adulthood. In another, a woman goes into massive debt trying to have a baby, an ovulation machine spitting out snide readings to her like an abusive Magic 8 Ball. These stories are also hilarious, combining deadpan, often abstract language to create an original, confident debut that continually threatens to run off the rails but never does.

In the first story, “Guidance / The Party,” the aforementioned guide is the embodiment of the kind of impossible mandates offered in women’s beauty magazines and the Facebook feeds of Goop-reading, self-improving acquaintances announcing …

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