Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Dept. of Speculation

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...

Details Dept. of Speculation

TitleDept. of Speculation
Release DateJan 28th, 2014
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction

Reviews Dept. of Speculation

  • Cameron
    I underlined basically the entire novel.
  • Emma Sea
    6 stars.I'm doing my inarticulate book-clutching thing.
  • s.penkevich
    ‘If you are tired of everything you possess, imagine that you have lost all these things.’John Berryman once wrote ‘let all flowers wither like a party.’ Nothing lasts, even the things we love most and nurture and care for must pass, but this is not cause for sadness but merely a reason to look into each moment and let ourselves feel the emotion coursing through them. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, writer of the marvelous children...
  • Idarah
    Indulging in my love of audio books has become more challenging since I quit my job, and no longer have a two and a half hour commute to get lost in a dreamy book. I've taken to having a special ME day once a week. The ritual revolves around my complicated and needy hair. The process of pre-shampooing, washing, deep conditioning, detangling, and finally braiding my hair into tiny segments occupies about 3-4 hours sometimes. I used to put it off u...
  • Katie
    Essentially, Offill carries out a kind of emotional autopsy on a young woman trying to divide her energies between bringing up a young child and keeping a husband happy without sacrificing her commitment to succeeding as a writer. The original format of this novel – it’s written as a kind of literary scrapbook of musings, quotes and insights - reminded me at times of Fellini’s brilliant film about the fount of inspiration, 8 . Like the film...
  • Greg
    “She thinks before she acts. Or more properly she thinks instead of acts. A character flaw not a virtue.”Dept. Of Speculation is a short novel of a marriage. It's told in 46 chapters composed of short paragraphs and almost aphoristic lines and quotes in 160 compact pages. The narrator, the Wife, goes from being a young woman who considers being an Art Monster, a person who lives solely for the creation of their art, to a wife and a mother. It...
  • Stephen
    The subject of this book is the same as Elena Ferrante's The Days of Abandonment - the husband strays - yet the writing couldn't have been handled more differently. To write like Ferrante you need a grasp of literature.To write like Offill you need an American education and access to the internet. Ferrante wears her education lightly - there are little, if any references to great writers.Offill doesn't let you forget who she's in touch with.Offil...
  • Carol
    The plot depiction is disjointed and resembles the ramblings of a bi-polar patient off his/her meds. Typically it sounds like the ramblings of a person in couples' therapy when only one partner shows up. I would like to talk about the redeeming graces of this novelette, but I could find none, It was like picking up someone's private daily journal -- and finding that it's really only meaningful to the person writing it. Unfortunately, this materia...
  • ·Karen·
    There are blowsy baroque behemoths that spill the entire contents of the fridge onto your reading table (and let you do the cooking, and the clearing up afterwards too sometimes), and then there are the delicate offerings, the distilled essence from the alembic, an extract that carries, within a tiny drop, sweetness, tartness, acidity, all at once. Potent. Searing. Jewel-like droplets that set the mouth ablaze and the mind reeling.This is sensati...
  • Roger Brunyate
    Ten Reasons Why You Should Read This Extraordinary Book10. Because it has one of the coolest back-cover endorsements (by Michael Cunningham) you will ever see.9. Because by reading you will challenge this 1896 advice to wives, quoted in the book: The indiscriminate reading of novels is one of the most injurious habits to which a married woman can be subject. Besides the false views of human nature it will impart, it produces an indifference to th...
  • christa
    True confession: I will probably never press a copy of Jenny Offill’s “Dept. of Speculation” into anyone’s hot little hands. It doesn’t matter anyway. The thing landed on, like, every Best Of 2014 list in the universe, probably even half-assedly scribbled onto fast food napkins. But here’s the thing: I didn’t just love this book, I fucking loved it. I felt passionate and heart-beaty about it. I touched words on pages and sighed like...
  • Paul Bryant
    There are so many novels which are really memoirs but are given to us as novels because memoirs are like “oh, what makes you think your life is so interesting I might want to read about it?” and novels are “yay! A new novel!”I will bet one thousand of my British poundsthat Jenny Offill really did have a bug infestation in her apartment and really did have a daughter who broke both her wrists. (Novels I read recently which are really also ...
  • Hugh
    This is an intriguing book, but quite a difficult one to assess and review. At first it seemed like an almost random stream of disconnected short paragraphs, but it soon becomes clear that the book has a core narrative that tells what would otherwise be a fairly humdrum and universal story of a failing marriage. The plot is the least important thing in this book - it is full of memorable observations and thoughts on a wide variety of subjects.It ...
  • Melanie
    My rating oscillates between 3 and 4 stars. Thin slices of married life as viewed through a microscope, agitated cells of a wife's emotional life swirling on the page. A mix of memories and inner thoughts, striking moments and philosophical quotes, the whole should have risen as a symphony yet it didn't quite do that in the end for me. The book felt a little bit rushed and disjointed and coming apart at the seams. Jenny Offill jumped ahead throug...
  • Jenna
    I want to review this book for a number of reasons, partly because it's so small and slight that I fear readers will ignore it. But, like Thomas Paine's Common Sense, its resemblance to a modest pamphlet belies the size of its punch.This book is an excellent character study and an example of what greatness can be achieved when an author trusts her reader and thus avoids the sin of overwriting. These days, many movies seem longer and sloppier and ...
  • LeeAnne
    This short story reminds me of the first big hill on a wooden roller coaster. That ominous,“click-click-clack... click-click -clack” as the chain slowly pulls the cars up the steep hill. The suspense builds, but be prepared for that fast, drop, straight down. The main characters have no names; they are only referred to as The Husband and The Wife. A woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown as her marriage is imploding. Her story is told in r...
  • Barry Pierce
    Very nice, subtle novel. The prose is clear, stripped-back and easy to follow, it's very incidental and smooth. I don't know, reading this novel feels like that moment when you slip into a hot bath and suddenly everything is alright. The words swash around you with their calming violence, constantly bobbling and trickling along with their nonchalant rhythm. This is a wonderful piece. I'm saddend that more people haven't read this. I truly recomme...
  • Elyse (semi hiatus) Walters
    I wrote a review a couple of years ago...sorry --not sure where it is Might show up Mariah!!
  • Janet
    I found myself gasping at the sheer beauty and conciseness of Offill's sentences. This book can be devoured in two hours, or you can languish in it over many sittings (or both). It's about love and loneliness and grief and joy and fidelity and beauty and depression and mania and motherhood and writing. The shifting points of view were subtle yet profound, and, despite the darkness and sadness of the story, when I closed the book, I was left more ...
  • Cheeky Cher
    1 star - I really hated it.DNF'd at 10% (a whopping 15 minutes of reading, maybe). Turns out it is a collection of random gibberish. Here are two excerpts that speak for themselves:To live in a city is to be forever flinching. 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. Blue jays spend every Friday with the devil, th...
  • Ben Loory
    the writing is excellent, but the story (marriage/baby/infidelity/unpleasantness) just makes me wanna open myself with a sword
  • Mariah Roze
    Well this book broke me into pieces. I just felt super connected to the main character and even though I am not married and I don't have any children I was still able to put myself in that characters shoes. The author did a great job at this. This was a fast, short, easy read that was super interesting and made you think and feel greatly!
  • Tyler Goodson
    This novel is some kind of magic trick. I don't know how else to explain how this envelope of a book, like a genie's lamp, contains so much story, truth, heartbreak, and wisdom. It left as big an impression as a tome, and in 160 odd pages that is something special.
  • Anni
    Written in a blog diary style, these are bittersweet dispatches from life on the frontline of a failing marriage. All the agonies and joys of motherhood are here too, condensed into unforgettable moments that any woman who has ever been ‘on the edge’ will empathise with, even if you have never had to walk a baby to sleep for hours.ExtractAnd that phrase – 'sleeping like a baby'. Some blonde said it blithely on the subway the other day. I wa...
  • Michael Ferro
    Jenny Offill's DEPT. OF SPECULATION is a smorgasbord of delightfully mindful appetizers that all come together as one infinitely satisfying meal. At times hilarious, other times sad, though sometimes both, this slim novel defies much of the trope stylings of a modern doomed marriage story, instead providing the reader with an endless supply of little food for thought nuggets of wisdom and whimsey mixed among the narrative of a marriage crumbling ...
  • Glenn Sumi
    An unnamed Brooklyn writer and teacher meets a man, has a child with him and then discovers he’s cheating on her.Sounds familiar, right? What makes this slim novel so memorable is the way the story unfolds in a series of vignettes that can be anything from a quote from a poem to an odd historical fact to haiku-like observations about life. Reading the book takes work. Images recur, characters known by their titles (“the philosopher,” “the...
  • Elyse (semi hiatus) Walters
    Original!Sometimes Hilarious!Absorbing and beautifully tenderly absurd slim novel that strikes a cord of truth.A meaningful story. Reveals the light within the darkness!A one sitting read!
  • Teresa
    A couple of friends had recommended this book to me and then ·Karen·'s review stating its contradistinction to Elena Ferrante's The Days of Abandonment sent me, intrigued, to immediately request it from the library. With very similar stories, the writing couldn't be more different. I'm not always a fan of minimalist writing and in the beginning I didn't think I was going to care for it here. But then not too far along, something clicked and I '...
  • Lee Klein
    There's a tricky point of view thing in this in which early on the husband is addressed as "you" and then, when husband and wife experience marital difficulties, the intimacy of that direct address is lost (he's called "he") until the very end, midway through the final page (it's not really a spoiler), when the husband is addressed as "you" again. And that's exactly the sort of thing that maybe kept me from giving this four stars -- although it s...