Spending Time In The “Dept. Of Speculation”—The Jenny Offill Novel

I like that Jenny Offill’s novel, Dept. of Speculation (2014), is short and has short paragraphs.  Sans a plot, it concerns the marriage and motherhood of an unnamed woman writer, and although I lack interest in what it, or any other contemporary novel, has to say about writers, the mother-and-child stuff is clever and incisive.  Even better is what James Wood has observed about the book:  “If it is a distressed account of a marriage in distress, it is also a poem in praise of the married state.”

The woman’s husband has an affair and so, yes, there is distress, but a positive ending occurs as well.

“Why doesn’t she throw the bum out?” some people might ask.  I don’t know; this is a novel and novels are about how human beings think and behave, and women often don’t throw the bum out, even if they should.

 

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