Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

The size of this slender book lures you in.. what possible impact could such a story have that can be read cover to cover on one Sunday afternoon. It's been months since I finished it and I still can't stop thinking about it. Extremely funny, often sad - Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill invites you in for a cup of tea and kicks you in the guts. From the point of view of a young writer referred to simply as 'the wife', we are shown short bursts of observation and memory—comic, startling, searing. Daily life, narrative of marriage, parenthood, ageing, introspective questions - how to be the artist. A book I couldn't put down and then forced into the hands of all my friends.

Category: Literary Fiction

Who'll want to read it? Lovers of intense and witty meditations on motherhood, infidelity, and identity.

Point of no return: “My plan was to never get married. I was going to be an art monster instead. Women almost never become art monsters because art monsters only concern themselves with art, never mundane things. Nabokov didn't even fold his own umbrella. Vera licked his stamps for him.” 

Classic line: So many...

“And that phrase - 'sleeping like a baby.' Some blonde said it blithely on the subway the other day. I wanted to lie down next to her and scream for five hours in her ear.” 

“I bought a warmer coat with many ingenious pockets. You put your hands in all of them.”

“Advice for wives circa 1896: The indiscriminate reading of novels is one of the most injurious habits to which a married woman can be subject. Besides the false views of human nature it will impart … it produces an indifference to the performance of domestic duties, and contempt for ordinary realities.” 

“Her neighbor’s husband fell in love with a girl who served coffee to him every morning. She was twenty-three and wanted to be a dancer or a poet or a physical therapist. When he left his family, his wife said, “Does it matter to you how foolish you look? That all our friends find you ridiculous?” He stood in the doorway, his coat in his hand. “No,” he said. The wife watched her neighbor get fat over the next year. The Germans have a word for that. Kummerspeck. Literally, grief bacon.” 

Publisher: Penguin Random House

 Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.

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