Vintage Contemporaries, 192 pages, $15 (c2014)
Dept. of What-Was-I-Thinking: I mistakenly picked up a copy of “Book of Speculation” from the library, and while it was okay (for the few pages I read), it wasn’t what I expected and I was confused for a while. Duh. “Dept. of Speculation” was one of the top ten books picked by The New York Times for 2014 and I’ve been meaning to read it (but obviously couldn’t retain the proper information to find it). I eventually located the real thing and am glad I did.
Although the book is not very big, each of Jenny Offill’s paragraphs is weighty. The paragraphs don’t necessarily present a linear storyline, but eventually the underlying concern is revealed. Offill cleverly displays her primary character (a professor, wife, and mother) and her increasing disassociation with her life by using different points of view.
Offill’s narrow world is concerned with love, marriage, motherhood, friendship, expectations, delineations, disappointment, anger, and sorrow. While her subject matter may not be unique, her style is unusual and provocative. While it is easy to read this book quickly, lingering over Offill’s words will be rewarded.