Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on 1/28/2014
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The wife. She is broken, enraged and listless, but not before being filled with the joys of new love and uncertainties of motherhood. She battles a never-ending barrage of bedbugs and baby vomit sneak attacks. She wonders where she lost herself, or if she willingly gave herself away.
At just under 200 pages, Dept. of Speculation can be devoured in a few hours, but begs to be savored over several days. Though Offill’s unnamed narrator can at times feel distant, using humorous anecdotes to keep readers at arm’s length, she also reveals intimate, honest details that are frighteningly relatable. Those in need of a solid plotline in their reading will likely struggle with the structure of Offill’s prose. Yet, the wife’s stream of consciousness is not without purposeful organization.
“But now it seems possible that the truth about getting older is that there are fewer and fewer things to make fun of until finally there is nothing you are sure you will never be.”
Like the swirl of thoughts that fill our heads as we lie awake at night, the vignettes in Dept. of Speculation run from self-deprecating to hopeful and nostalgic to envious in sporadic, but gorgeously penned, sentences. Offill combines witty humor with careful analysis of modern life and marriage in a book well worth recommending.