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You should read this book, if only to devour, page by page, paragraph by paragraph, Offill's use of diction through the narrator's subtly beautiful and equally heartbreaking memories and emotions. I finished this book, sad that it was over, but more aware than ever of the things that make me human, and that these things are okay.
"It is important if someone asks you to remember one of your happiest times to consider not only the question but also the questioner. If the question is asked by someone you love, it is fair to assume that this person hopes to feature in this recollection he has called forth. But you could, if you were wrong and if you had a crooked heart, forget this most obvious and endearing thing and instead speak of a time you were all alone, in the country, with no one wanting a thing from you, not even love. You could say that was your happiest time. And if you did this then telling about this happiest of times would cause the person you most want to be happy to be unhappy." -pg. 95— From Claire
“I found myself gasping at the sheer beauty and conciseness of Offill's sentences in this portrait of a marriage. Dept. of Speculation can be devoured quickly, or readers can linger in it over many sittings. Covering the topics of love, loneliness, grief, joy, fidelity, beauty, depression, mania, motherhood, and writing, the shifting points of view are subtle yet profound, and despite the darkness and sadness of the story, when I closed the book I was left more alert and attentive, and feeling more alive. Highly recommended!”
— Janet Geddis, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA
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.
“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