Writer to discuss mystery novel in Brooklyn

Brooklyn BookBeat

October 28, 2014 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Writer Jenny Offill’s book “Dept. of Speculation” is now out in paperback. Photo by Michael Lionstar

From the acclaimed author of “Last Things,” Jenny Offill’s “Dept. of Speculation,” newly out in paperback, paints a nuanced portrait of a complicated marriage – weaving in an element of mystery.

Offill’s heroine, a writer called simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband. The return address was always the same: the Dept. of Speculation – the couple’s code phrase for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship.

As the wife gives an account of her everyday trials – bedbugs, a faltering marriage, a colicky baby, stalled ambitions – she builds a rich world through the accumulation of simple sentences and diverse allusions, pulling in everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She uses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near-total destruction of the self that ensues from it, as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the demands of art.  

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The author will appear in Brooklyn for a reading Nov. 1 at Greenpoint’s WORD Bookstore, where she will discuss her work alongside author Eimear McBride. The event will begin at 5 p.m. WORD is located at 126 Franklin St.


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