I’ve been talking about Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill quite a bit since reading it in January. Of course anyone who has heard me go on and on about a book knows that doesn’t mean I liked it; in fact, there is a certain bestseller from last year that I still complain about. I do however, like Dept. of Speculation quite a lot.
Offill’s book is the story of a marriage that very well may be coming to its end. Told in sparse vignettes (and when I say sparse I mean some are a line or two long), some darkly comic, some anyone who has been in a dissolving relationship will identify with, and a few are simply heartbreaking.
The size of the book may easily lend itself to being read in one sitting, and you certainly could breeze through this in an hour or two, as it’s less than two hundred pages. But come on, are you made from stone? Do you want to be like Liz? No, I didn’t think so. To breeze through this book is to really miss an opportunity to let these thoughts or notes on life and marriage marinate. Take your time with this book and I guarantee that your experience is going to be richer than those who raced through it (and I suspect it is the case with a few of the reviewers). This little book lands some punches to the gut: it's deep, it's emotional, and it's raw. I took a month to read it; I suggest you do the same. Ok, that's not exactly true (at all) but I didn't read it in one sitting and I cried twice.
This may be a wild comparison but after reading this my mind went to an old book that I go back to every now and again when I am pining for my youth (every Thursday at happy hour), Life After God by Douglas Coupland. Also told through vignettes, Life After God explored many of the same things: anxiety, loneliness, and the end of relationships.
Oh, and for those of you who underline or highlight books...get your pens out.