Review: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

The Blurb

They used to send each other letters. The return address was always the same:  Dept. of Speculation. They used to be young, brave and giddy with hopes for their future. They got married, had a child, and skated through all the same calamities of family life. But then, slowly, quietly something changes.

As the years rush by, fears creep in and doubts accumulate until finally their life as they know it cracks apart and they find themselves forced to reassess what they have lost, what is left, and what they want now.

Written with the dazzling lucidity of poetry, Dept. of Speculation navigates the jagged edges of a modern marriage to tell a story that is darkly funny, surprising and wise.

The Review

I had heard many a great thing about Dept. of Speculation prior to reading it and was therefore very excited to start, however, I genuinely did not get it. It read like a detailed synopsis of a story that hadn’t been fully formed.

I understand that this style of writing was used solely to create an impact such as the lack of character names signified that the act of adultery can happen in any marriage and by giving the characters identities in this way creates a separation between the reader and the fictional character on the page. What this also did was make it very difficult for the reader (or this reader, at least) to form an emotional attachment or car for the character.

I personally feel that the author opted for style over substance. Ironically, the substance was there it was just never fully explored.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill is available now.

Dept of speculation

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