Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill comes out today! This is the most clever and lovable book I’ve read in a long time. It’s the story of a vulnerable marriage, told in little jabs of diamond-sharp prose by a wife whose mind wanders from bedbugs to cosmonauts, from Rilke to yoga pants. It’s a little book that feels enormous.
We asked the author one question.
How are you celebrating the publication of Dept. of Speculation?
Jenny Offill: On publication day, I am giving a reading at Bookcourt, the bookstore in Brooklyn where I used to work.
To prepare for this event, I will rise at dawn and do 192 pushups (one for each page of the novel) and then mix an elixir of Red Bull and raw eggs and powdered gold leaf. I will drink this while reciting long passages from my book in a soft, poety voice to myself.
I will put on a dress and fancy shoes and brush my long golden hair until it gleams like the fur of a wild animal.
Lipstick will be applied. Teeth will be scanned for errant lipstick lest people confuse my cheery, well put together self with my main character who is unhinged.
I will take a moment to worry that no one will come to my reading, that even if dear friends do I will not have provided enough food or wine for them. I will consider my own fraudulence and ignorance, my vast stores of pettiness and sloth.
I will vow to be less lazy, less self-indulgent, to go immediately into my room to work on my soul-killing unfinished novel instead of staring moonily into the mirror.
It will occur to me that my novel is finished, that is published even, and that I am being given a party (at Bookcourt! Bookcourt!) to celebrate this.
I will remove my fancy shoes and jump up and down on my bed.