|Dept. of Speculation
"Antelopes have 10x vision, you said."
Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all.
Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband, postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes—a colicky baby, bedbugs, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it, as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.
With cool precision, in language that shimmers with rage and wit and fierce longing, Jenny Offill has crafted an exquisitely suspenseful love story that has the velocity of a train hurtling through the night at top speed. Exceptionally lean and compact, Dept. of Speculation can be read in a single sitting, but there are enough bracing emotional insights in these pages to fill a much longer novel.
Well this didn't "wow" me like it did for others. It was a short, quick read and wasn't unpleasant or anything. The story was vaguely told through short paragraphs (thoughts) written like a confession in letter form. It took a little bit of time to understand what was exactly going on and after awhile I started to admire the Author for being able to tell a complete story in this way. However, as impressive as this is, it wasn't that effective for me. I would consider this book to be a nice afternoon read to ponder on but nothing that brought out any emotion. The Author definitely is talented and she is able to describe certain situations pretty perfectly in very few words. This review will probably be about as short as the book though. I know this book won't be sticking around in my memory for very long and I don't think I would be dropping it into anybodys hands to read... not really sure where this book fits in my life? Oh well, I have this signed by the Author from my RJ Julia signed first edition club, so that's nice I guess. It was also picked for the Tournament of Books, so that will be interesting to see. I won't say read this or don't... this choice will be left up to you.
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