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 a long relationship. As they confront an
array of common catastrophes—a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled
ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and
Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian
cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love,
and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it as she confronts
the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.
With cool precision, in language that shimmers with rage and
wit and fierce longing, Jenny Offill has crafted an exquisitely suspenseful
love story that has the velocity of a train hurtling through the night at top
speed. Exceptionally lean and compact, Dept.
of Speculation is a novel to be devoured in a single sitting, though its
bracing emotional insights and piercing meditations on despair and love will
linger long after the last page. Download and start listening now!