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Dept. of Speculation

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Hardcover published by Knopf (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all.

Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes—a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses 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 seductions and demands of art.

With cool precision, in language that shimmers with rage and wit and fierce longing, Jenny Offill has crafted an exquisitely suspenseful love story that has the velocity of a train hurtling through the night at top speed. Exceptionally lean and compact, Dept. of Speculation is a novel to be devoured in a single sitting, though its bracing emotional insights and piercing meditations on despair and love will linger long after the last page.
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Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all.

Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes—a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses 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 seductions and demands of art.

With cool precision, in language that shimmers with rage and wit and fierce longing, Jenny Offill has crafted an exquisitely suspenseful love story that has the velocity of a train hurtling through the night at top speed. Exceptionally lean and compact, Dept. of Speculation is a novel to be devoured in a single sitting, though its bracing emotional insights and piercing meditations on despair and love will linger long after the last page.
Product Details
Hardcover (192 pages)
Published: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Knopf
ISBN: 9780385350815
Other books byJenny Offill
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    In this hilarious read-aloud featuring robots, fire trucks, and pirates, meet an older sister who’s more than happy to fill her little brother in on all he missed while he was napping. Since none of the other neighborhood kids had to nap, they came over. Then came the robots, and of course the astronauts. It was tons of fun . . . and luckily for the boy (right?!), he slept through it all! Here’s a picture book that is sure to ring true in every family with more than one child. With minimal text and raucous illustrations, this laugh-out-loud, spot-on picture book is also a perfect portrait of a mischievous kid at her imaginative best.

    17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore

    17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore
    A laugh-out-loud look at all the fun things grown-ups never let you do . . . now in paperback! Jenny Offill, author of 11 Experiments That Failed, describes how tough it is to be a kid, when even the (seemingly) best ideas are met with resistance. The text is short, spare, and fall-on-the-floor funny—not to mention utterly child-friendly. Here, accompanied by Nancy Carpenter's hilariously clever illustrations, is a day-in-the-life look at a kid as she torments her brother, her pet, her classmates, and, of course, her mother. The theme of this Dragonfly Book is Just for Fun.

    11 Experiments That Failed

    11 Experiments That Failed
    "This is a most joyful and clever whimsy, the kind that lightens the heart and puts a shine on the day," raved Kirkus Reviews in a starred review. Is it possible to eat snowballs doused in ketchup—and nothing else—all winter? Can a washing machine wash dishes? By reading the step-by-step instructions, kids can discover the answers to such all-important questions along with the book's curious narrator. Here are 12 "hypotheses," as well as lists of "what you need," "what to do," and "what happened" that are sure to make young readers laugh out loud as they learn how to conduct science experiments (really!). Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter—the ingenious pair that brought you 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore—have outdone themselves in this brilliant and outrageously funny book.

    The Friend Who Got Away

    The Friend Who Got Away
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    Losing a friend can be as painful and as agonizing as a divorce or the end of a love affair, yet it is rarely written about or even discussed. THE FRIEND WHO GOT AWAY is the first book to address this near-universal experience, bringing together the brave, eloquent voices of writers like Francine Prose, Katie Roiphe, Dorothy Allison, Elizabeth Strout, Ann Hood, Diana Abu Jabar, Vivian Gornick, Helen Schulman, and many others. Some write of friends who have drifted away, others of sudden breakups that took them by surprise. Some even celebrate their liberation from unhealthy or destructive relationships. Yet at the heart of each story is the recognition of a loss that will never be forgotten. From stories about friendships that dissolved when one person revealed a hidden self or moved into a different world, to tales of relationships sabotaged by competition, personal ambition, or careless indifference, THE FRIEND WHO GOT AWAY casts new light on the meaning and nature of women’s friendships. Katie Roiphe writes with regret about the period in her life when even close friends seemed expendable compared to men and sex. Mary Morris reveals how a loan led to the unraveling of a lifelong friendship. Vivian Gornick explores how intellectual differences eroded the bond between once inseparable companions. And two contributors, once best friends, tell both sides of the story that led to their painful breakup. Written especially for this anthology and touched with humor, sadness, and sometimes anger, these extraordinary pieces simultaneously evoke the uniqueness of each situation and illuminate the universal emotions evoked by the loss of a friend.

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