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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

This is a small novella that is almost poetry in its succinctness about life.  It is not all sugar and spice and everything nice.  She is a woman who has dissolved a long term relationship and looking back on it with somewhat of a microscope.

The main character, somewhat annoyingly referred to as "the wife", is a wickedly funny and poignantly vulnerable woman.  It is annoying because she is so not the wife, other than that she was married.  That is almost the last thing that she is.  Which is a good thing.  It may be ironic, now that I think about it, because she falls so far outside the prim and proper boundaries of wifehood.  I love that because there is almost nothing about me that fits well into the mold that word conveys, and she is entirely out there about it.

The story opens with a chronicle of her early adult years, including marriage and the birth of her daughter, giving the reader a rare window into the character’s insecurity and hesitance. It’s a simple premise, elegantly conveyed with spartan prose; life is full of twists, bumps, disappointments and personal tragedies, often with only a modest helping of joy on the side. It’s that chronic rift between what we want, or thought we would have, what we ended up with, and how we made peace with that, or we didn’t.  A quick and restless book that lands well.

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