Book #82

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

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. 

A heartbreakingly raw account of a woman’s life and thought processes.

The prose is gorgeous; structured in tiny vignettes, we almost sail through the wife’s tragedies and joys, fleeting or otherwise. It’s emotional, it’s abstract, and yet it’s completely real. Offill’s choice of structure here has had far more of an impact on me than, say, a standard linear first-person approach. The small snippets documenting marriage, children, and adultery, form a scrapbook of pain and anger, but also highlight some of life’s little moments of bliss.

I would have a liked a more satisfactory conclusion, however, with the novel being so true to life, perhaps a nice tied up ending wouldn’t have fit. We continue.

Other than that, I’m finding it difficult to describe exactly what I enjoyed so much about this little novel. Perhaps it’s just come along at the right time in my life, allowing me to connect with it as much as possible. Perhaps it’s just one of those novels where you can’t put your feelings into words. And strangely, it’s not one I will be shouting from the rooftops and urging everyone to read. I do feel strange about this.

Beautiful, evoking, and charged. I’ll remember this one for a while.