Dept. of Speculation

Some review, either here on Goodreads or elsewhere, likened this book to a magic trick. That seems about right to me. I have no idea how Offill pulled this off, but she did it. And unlike some other magic tricks, I don’t particularly care to know how it all happened. I’m just happy to have been a witness to it.

Offill, and her protagonist, have a skill that I’ve always wanted. She remembers pithy quotes and sentences from instructive authors and books. I read a lot and I remember a lot of the main themes and theories I come across, but those quotes and sentences that sum everything up nicely - they don’t stick in my brain the way they do in Offill’s. It’s a trait I admire and envy. Those were probably my favorite part of the whole book. Because, like many a millennial, I ascribe authority to someone who can bring in a lot of view-points. If you’re quoting literary giants, Russian authors, philosophers, artists, your predecessors, you’re placing yourself in the historical perspective - I tend to believe you know more what you’re talking about than some others.

What kept me from giving this 5/5 stars was primarily that it was too pithy for its own good. Although I felt connected to The Wife, and very much appreciated the journey she went through as a single woman, wife, new mother, cheated-upon wife, victim, healer, healed, etc etc - I would’ve been more impressed with Offill if she could’ve built a bigger world around this journey. We never left The Wife’s mind, and although there was plenty in there to be caught up with, I would’ve loved to see more of the world around her.