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Dept. of Speculation Paperback – 7 October 2014
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"Shimmering. . . . Breathtaking. . . . Joyously demanding." --The New York Times Book Review"Slender, quietly smashing. . . . A book so radiant, so sparkling with sunlight and sorrow, that it almost makes a person gasp." --The Boston Globe "Powerful. . . . Exquisite. . . . A novel that's wonderfully hard to encapsulate, because it faces in many directions at the same time, and glitters with different emotional colors." --The New Yorker "A startling feat of storytelling . . . Each line a dazzling, perfectly chiseled arrowhead aimed at your heart." --Vanity Fair "Dept. of Speculation resembles no book I've read before. If I tell you that it's funny, and moving, and true; that it's as compact and mysterious as a neutron; that it tells a profound story of love and parenthood while invoking (among others) Keats, Kafka, Einstein, Russian cosmonauts, and advice for the housewife of 1897, will you please simply believe me, and read it?" --Michael Cunningham "You can read Jenny Offill's new novel in about two hours. It's short and funny and absorbing, an effortless-seeming downhill ride that picks up astonishing narrative speed as it goes." --The New York Review of Books
"Gorgeous, funny, a profound and profoundly moving work of art. Jenny Offill is a master of form and feeling, and she gets life on the page in new, startling ways." --Sam Lipsyte "Introspective and resonant. . . . Offill uses her novel to explore the question of how to be an artist as well as a wife and mother, when these states can feel impossibly contradictory." --San Francisco Chronicle
"Absorbing and highly readable. . . . Intriguing, beautifully written, sly, and often profound." --NPR "Audacious . . . Hilarious . . . . An account of matrimony and motherhood that breaks free of the all-too-limiting traditional stories of wives and mothers. . . . It may be difficult to truly know what happens between two people, but Offill gets alarmingly close." --The Atlantic "Piercingly honest. . . . A series of wry vignettes that deepen movingly." --Vogue
"Dept. of Speculation is a riposte to the notion that domestic fiction is humdrum and unambitious. . . . A shattered novel that stabs and sparkles at the same time. It is the kind of book that you will be quoting over and over to friends who don't quite understand, until they give in and read it too. . . . A book this sad shouldn't be so much fun to read. " --The Guardian (London) "Whip-smart, defying description, will bring your walls down around you." --Flavorwire
"[A] mini marvel of a novel. . . . Unfolds in tart, tiny chapters suffused with pithy philosophical musings, scientific tidbits, and poetic sayings that collectively guide a brainy, beleaguered couple through the tricky emotional terrain of their once wondrous, now wobbly union." --Elle
About the Author
Jenny Offill is the author of the novel Last Things, which was chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Book Award. She teaches in the writing programs at Queens University, Brooklyn College, and Columbia University.
- Publisher : Vintage (7 October 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0345806875
- ISBN-13 : 978-0345806871
- Dimensions : 13.08 x 1.55 x 20.24 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 419,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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1. the creativity lost through marriage and motherhood
2. an infestation of head lice
3. her husband's infidelity.
I had to sympathise with the husband choosing a lover on the grounds that she was 'easier' to get along with than his wife.
A whining diatribe interspersed with quotes from philosophers and others that support the main character's angst-ridden world view.
But is it enough to sustain a novel(la)? This reader was torn between an immediate re-read to pick up the subtlety or setting it aside and letting time take its course. It was a close call, and the latter option won. The result, I'm afraid, is that most of it evaporated pretty quickly. So, a pleasant and thought provoking read, but one which doesn't leave a deep impression.
Top reviews from other countries
Of all the books I read last year, and recommend to friends, this is near the top of my list. It's a tiny novel, but it's packed like a hand-grenade with the thoughts and ideas of a woman whose marriage is in crisis and whose life - initially happy - seems to be unravelling. All this despite the fact it contains some of the elements I find most off-putting about novels written by creative writing teachers: references to students and writing. Added to this is the fact that it is set in New York, a city already obsessed with itself. And yet I was utterly seduced by Offill's needle-sharp observations and the wry hilarity of her style. The protagonist skewers her own self-pity, and in doing so, makes you smile. She is a great comic writer.