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Dept. of Speculation (Vintage…
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Dept. of Speculation (Vintage Contemporaries) (original 2014; edition 2014)

by Jenny Offill (Author)

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1,0619611,485 (3.72)105
Member:bibliopaul76
Title:Dept. of Speculation (Vintage Contemporaries)
Authors:Jenny Offill (Author)
Info:Vintage (2014), 194 pages
Collections:Your library
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Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (2014)

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» See also 105 mentions

English (93)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (96)
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
Sorta wanted to just highlight the whole book. ( )
  ambersnowpants | Aug 23, 2018 |
Great narrative form consisting of short outbursts you might imagine written on index cards or fortune cookies. Oddly I found the random asides more engaging than the main plot, which becomes a bit stale in the second half of the book. ( )
  albertgoldfain | Jun 28, 2018 |
Le "Bureau des spéculations est souvent est extrêmement drôle et souvent triste; carrément direct , malicieusemet ironique, voire capricieux. Sa profondeur et son intensité ont vite fait de prendre le lecteur dans ses filets.
  ACParakou | May 31, 2018 |
Yes, this was another title picked up on impulse at the Springvale Library…
(I should explain: my good friend Rosie was singing the praises of the Greater Dandenong network of libraries, and now that libraries so often host author talks and other good things, it seemed like a good idea to join up, especially since it was on the way home from her place. Well, you can’t go in and join a library and not borrow stuff, can you?)
Anyway, this was a book that everyone seemed to have read, but it was one of those that I didn’t want enough to buy or even reserve at the library. But there it was, and less than 200 pages long, and I read it overnight because the insomniac goblins are back.
My hesitations were well-founded, and now I wonder if maybe I should have taken more notice of Kim’s review at Reading Matters. As she says:
I couldn’t help thinking, is that it? Why is everyone raving about this?
The book has been so hyped that I hardly need to outline the plot: it’s a New York marriage that goes wrong. Love sours with the arrival of a testy baby and the interruption to the career that made her an interesting and witty person. (At least, that’s what the first person narration says she was). Then there’s unhappiness, for the predictable reason.
If I hadn’t read Catherine Chidgey’s so much more captivating The Beat of the Pendulum (see my review) I might have enjoyed the ‘found novel’ approach more. Offill uses scraps of thoughts, dialogue, events, and fragments of poetry to depict the trajectory of this marriage. It has occasional pretensions but nothing too irritating. But the narrator’s preoccupation with self does convey the clichéd ‘Californian’ narcissism that we used to joke about last century when we thought narcissism was a passing phase. As Kim says, the tone is ‘whiney’.
Well, to be fair, I probably would have whined if I had bed bugs in the house too… ( )
  anzlitlovers | May 28, 2018 |
I really liked this a lot, but I can see where it might be a tough sell. It is a short and oblique look at a marriage from the point of view of the wife. It's told in very short paragraphs, often only tenuously connected to one another. There is a narrative arc, but if you like books with lots of plot movement this is not the one for you. It is beautifully written, though, and an interesting reflection on marriage. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
If Rainer Maria Rilke had written a novel about marriage, it might look something like this: a series of paragraphs, seldom exceeding more than a dozen lines, sometimes without much apparent connection to the text on either side.
added by sturlington | editKirkus Reviews (Nov 27, 2013)
 
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Epigraph
Speculators on the universe...
are no better than madmen.

Socrates
Dedication
For Dave
First words
Antelopes have 10x vision, you said.
Quotations
But the smell of her hair. The way she clasped her hand around my fingers. This was like medicine. For once, I didn’t have to think. The animal was ascendant.
The Buddhists say there are 121 states of consciousness. Of these, only three involve misery or suffering. Most of us spend our time moving back and forth between these three.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385350813, Hardcover)

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 catastrophesa 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. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:31 -0400)

"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. "--… (more)

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