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Dept. of Speculation (2014)

por Jenny Offill

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
2,0181437,954 (3.72)132
"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 a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes--a colicky baby, bedbugs, 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 can be read in a single sitting, but there are enough bracing emotional insights in these pages to fill a much longer novel. "--… (mais)
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» Ver também 132 menções

Inglês (139)  Espanhol (2)  Holandês (1)  Catalão (1)  Todas as línguas (143)
Mostrando 1-5 de 143 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
An amusing book about adultery; educational too! I never knew that research shows men tend to have affairs after their oldest child turns six, our evolutionarily reptilian brains thinking that genetic investment is able to carry on without us now, so time to go create a different one. Or that Buddhists believe there are 121 states of consciousness, only 3 of which involve misery or suffering, though naturally we spend most of our time just in those three. I have no confirmation that these are true, mind, but they sound legit.

The book's heroine never intended to get married, and the book never intends to give the reader much of any idea about the husband. He exists, he is outlined, and then he cheats, and we're given the wife's reaction along with a steady stream of amusing factoids. Interestingly, the perspective shifts from first to third person once this trouble occurs, as if the character steps back from this clichéd situation to wryly observe the difficulty she's gotten herself into. "If only you'd stuck to your plan to be an Art Monster," her third person omniscient voice might say to her first person character, "this totally could have been avoided." Happily, however, the first person wrenches back control of the narrative at the last. It's always better to have loved.

There is a comparison in the style of this book to Renata Adler's Speedboat in that it is told in little episodic chunks. But Offill is funny; Adler is arch. Offill has a plot; Adler does not. Between the two I'll definitely take Offill. ( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
Good writing, but no narrative coherence; i just didn’t get the point. Experimental style isn’t for me ( )
  JosephKing6602 | Dec 6, 2023 |
Simpel dingetje. Ontroerend een beetje. Makkelijk mee weggekomen van de schrijfster wel, vind ik. Dagboek van een meisje/vrouw.
Begrijp de buzz errond wel niet. ( )
  Ekster_Alven | Sep 25, 2023 |
Perfect. ( )
  cbwalsh | Sep 13, 2023 |
This is a terrific, small novel about humans - getting along & not - with numerous insights and delightful writing. ( )
  RickGeissal | Aug 16, 2023 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 143 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Offill’s brief book eschews obvious grandeur. It does not broadcast its accomplishments for the cosmos but tracks the personal and domestic and local, a harrowed inner space. It concentrates its mass acutely, pressing down with exquisite and painful precision, like a pencil tip on the white of the nail.
adicionada por Lemeritus | editarThe New Yorker, James Wood (Mar 24, 2014)
 
Dept. of Speculation is a riposte to the notion that domestic fiction is humdrum and unambitious. From the point of view of an unnamed American woman, it gives us the hurrahs and boos of daily life, of marriage and of parenthood, with exceptional originality, intensity and sweetness.
[...]
Dept. of Speculation is 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.
adicionada por Nevov | editarThe Guardian, John Self (Mar 14, 2014)
 
Offill is a smart writer with a canny sense of pacing; just when you want to abandon the fragmented puzzle pieces of the novel, she reveals a moment of breathtaking tenderness ... especially engaging when it describes new motherhood ... For better or worse, this is not so much a book about their marriage; it is a book about the wife’s marriage. It would be interesting to read the other story to this marriage, to know more of the husband, the father — but Offill still makes it seem as if the wife’s version of the marriage is story enough and, perhaps, the only story that matters.
adicionada por Lemeritus | editarNew York Times, Roxane Gay (Feb 7, 2014)
 
From deep within the interiors of a fictional marriage, Offill has crafted an account of matrimony and motherhood that breaks free of the all-too-limiting traditional stories of wives and mothers. There is complexity to the central partnership; Offill folds cynicism into genuine moments of love. It may be difficult to truly know what happens between two people, but Offill gets alarmingly close.
adicionada por Lemeritus | editarThe Atlantic, Koa Beck (Jan 29, 2014)
 
Jenny Offill's novel Dept. of Speculation, which weighs in at 192 pages soaking wet and includes a fair amount of white space, is extremely short for a novel. It's an unusual book not only in terms of its size, but also its form. Make no mistake, this is an experimental novel. By which I mean that the narrative isn't a series of flowing scenes that keep you reassuringly grounded in plot, but a collection of vignettes, observations and quirky details that are sometimes pulled from real life.... Offill has successfully met the challenge she seems to have given herself: write only what needs to be written, and nothing more. No excess, no flab. And do it in a series of bulletins, fortune-cookie commentary, mordant observations, lyrical phrasing. And through these often disparate and disconnected means, tell the story of the fragile nature of anyone's domestic life.
 

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Speculators on the universe...
are no better than madmen.

Socrates
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For Dave
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But the smell of her hair. The way she clasped her hand around my fingers. This was like medicine. For once, I didn’t have to think. The animal was ascendant.
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.
Studies suggest that reading makes enormous demands on the neurological system. One psychiatric journal claimed that African tribes needed more sleep after being taught to read. The French were great believers in such theories. During World War II, the largest rations went to those engaged in arduous physical labor and those whose work involved reading and writing.
The reason to have a home is to keep certain people in and everyone else out. A home has a perimeter. But sometimes our perimeter was breached by neighbors, by Girl Scouts, by Jehovah’s Witnesses. I never liked to hear the doorbell ring. None of the people I liked ever turned up that way.
And that phrase—“sleeping like a baby.” Some blonde said it blithely on the subway the other day. I wanted to lie down next to her and scream for five hours in her ear.
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"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 a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes--a colicky baby, bedbugs, 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 can be read in a single sitting, but there are enough bracing emotional insights in these pages to fill a much longer novel. "--

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