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Jenny Offill

Author of Dept. of Speculation

17+ Works 4,901 Members 348 Reviews 3 Favorited

About the Author


Works by Jenny Offill

Associated Works

Electric Literature No. 3 (2010) — Contributor — 10 copies


2014 (29) 2015 (42) 2020 (45) 21st century (29) American (27) American literature (30) animals (22) behavior (24) children's (40) climate change (41) contemporary fiction (24) ebook (35) essays (21) experiments (32) family (45) fiction (438) friendship (26) funny (24) humor (72) infidelity (27) Kindle (21) library (23) literary fiction (35) marriage (108) motherhood (29) New York (21) New York City (22) non-fiction (46) novel (75) pets (47) picture book (168) read (54) read in 2015 (22) read in 2020 (24) relationships (27) science (62) scientific method (21) sloths (30) to-read (480) USA (25)

Common Knowledge

Massachusetts, USA
Places of residence
Brooklyn, New York, USA
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Brooklyn College
Queens University of Charlotte
Short biography
Jennie Offill teaches in the M.F.A. writing program at Brooklyn College.  [adapted from The Friend Who Got Away (2005)]



I read for the writing and this is my book. As someone has written "each paragraph is a polished gem and each sentence" a perfect facet of that gem. I thought [b:Dept. of Speculation|17402288|Dept. of Speculation|Jenny Offill|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1367929545l/17402288._SX50_.jpg|24237023] was one of my favorites and this funny, quirky, anxious tale joins the bandwagon.
[b:Weather|37506228|Weather|Jenny Offill|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1566942482l/37506228._SY75_.jpg|59116540] is comforting even though the main character, Lizzie, is worried about environmental collapse and her brother is hovering at breakdown and her marriage is going through a rough bit, she is comforted by the survival techniques she reads about at the library where she works as a feral librarian (meanng not degreed). She relates hilariious moments with patrons. I looked forward to the style and tidbitty factoids offered and liked Lizzie, identified with her concerns even if I'm not a youngish mother working fulltime and trying to help a disintegrating brother in the midst of a divorce.… (more)
featherbooks | 68 other reviews | May 7, 2024 |
I don’t know how to feel about this book.

Each sentence is beautifully written, but disjointed from the others. It’s almost stream-of-consciousness, but then there is a plot twisted into it. It rambles, yet somehow no words are wasted.

The storytelling is not my style, I’ve concluded, but I can’t discredit the author’s way with words. Give it a shot. It’s so short that if you don’t like it, it’s still a book read and didn’t eat up too much of your time.
jnoshields | 144 other reviews | Apr 10, 2024 |
The first few chapters wowed me. Offill's writing was crisp and she had a talent for observing and writing about people. For example, who could forget the wife's experience of hiding something she dislikes at a restaurant and then find out that the restaurant's staff didn't care? However, I feel that the tone of the book somehow changed after the first few chapters, which affected my enjoyment of the book.
siok | 144 other reviews | Mar 17, 2024 |
An amusing book about adultery; educational too! I never knew that research shows men tend to have affairs after their oldest child turns six, our evolutionarily reptilian brains thinking that genetic investment is able to carry on without us now, so time to go create a different one. Or that Buddhists believe there are 121 states of consciousness, only 3 of which involve misery or suffering, though naturally we spend most of our time just in those three. I have no confirmation that these are true, mind, but they sound legit.

The book's heroine never intended to get married, and the book never intends to give the reader much of any idea about the husband. He exists, he is outlined, and then he cheats, and we're given the wife's reaction along with a steady stream of amusing factoids. Interestingly, the perspective shifts from first to third person once this trouble occurs, as if the character steps back from this clichéd situation to wryly observe the difficulty she's gotten herself into. "If only you'd stuck to your plan to be an Art Monster," her third person omniscient voice might say to her first person character, "this totally could have been avoided." Happily, however, the first person wrenches back control of the narrative at the last. It's always better to have loved.

There is a comparison in the style of this book to Renata Adler's Speedboat in that it is told in little episodic chunks. But Offill is funny; Adler is arch. Offill has a plot; Adler does not. Between the two I'll definitely take Offill.
… (more)
lelandleslie | 144 other reviews | Feb 24, 2024 |



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Associated Authors

Elissa Schappell Editor, Foreword & contributor
Lydia Millet Contributor
Chris Appelhans Illustrator
Nancy Carpenter Illustrator
Dorothy Allison Contributor
Nuar Alsadir Contributor
Heather Abel Contributor
Emily Chenoweth Contributor
Mary Morris Contributor
Beverly Gologorsky Contributor
Francine Prose Introduction
Kate Bernheimer Contributor
Helen Schulman Contributor
Jennifer Gilmore Contributor
Nicole Keeter Contributor
Diana Abu-Jaber Contributor
Katie Roiphe Contributor
Vivian Gornick Contributor
Patricia Marx Contributor
Elizabeth Strout Contributor
Emily White Contributor
Ann Hood Contributor
Fred Leebron Contributor
Kathryn Rhett Contributor
Jeanne McCulloch Contributor
Isabel Rose Contributor
Jill McCorkle Contributor
Walter Kirn Contributor
Claire Dederer Contributor
Ruth Konigsberg Contributor
Tony Serra Contributor
Brett Martin Contributor
Meera Nair Contributor
Felicia Sullivan Contributor
Daniel Handler Contributor
Chris Offutt Contributor
Charles D'Ambrosio Contributor
Steven Rinehart Contributor
Susan Choi Contributor
Jonathan Dee Contributor
Henry Alford Contributor
Andy Behrman Contributor
Marian Fontana Contributor
Linda Huang Cover designer
Gray318 Cover designer
Melanie Walz Translator
John Gall Cover designer
Chris Welch Designer


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