Book 32 of my 2015 Reading Challenge
read from June 17 - 21
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Summary (via the book jacket)
In the beginning, it was easy to imagine their future. They were young and giddy, sure of themselves and their love for each other. "Dept. of Speculation" was their code name for all the thrilling uncertainties that lay ahead. Then they got married, had a child, and navigated the familiar calamities of family life - a colicky baby, a faltering relationship, stalled ambitions.
When their marriage reaches a sudden breaking point, the wife tries to retrace the steps that have led them to this place, evoking everyone from Kafka to the Stoics to doomed Russian cosmonauts as she analyzes what is lost and what remains. In language that shimmers with rage and longing and wit, Offill has created a brilliantly suspenseful love story - a novel to read in one sitting, even as its piercing meditations linger long after the last page.
I can't sum up this book at all but it was compulsively readable. Without the description, I would have had no idea about the Dept. of Speculation until nearly the end.
It was written in that frantic, desperate way when people have words pouring out of them and need to get it out, like a true journal. It was a very unique writing style that kept me interested.
I wasn't ready for the book to end, both because of the writing style and because I wanted more of the story. I would definitely read this author again.
A Few Quotes from the Book
"That one was so beautiful I used to watch him sleep. If I had to sum up what he did to me, I'd say it was this: he made me sing along to all the bad songs on the radio. Both when he loved me and when he didn't."
"Nothing is better for a man than a good wife, and no horror matches a bad one."
"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."
"A few nights later , I secretly hope that I might be a genius. Why else can no amount of sleeping pills fell my brain? But in the morning my daughter asks me what a cloud is and I cannot say."
"Three things no one has ever said about me:
You make it look so easy.
You are very mysterious.
You need to take yourself more seriously."
"What the rabbi said: Three things have a flavor of the world to come: the Sabbath, the sun, and married love."