Dept. of Speculation by by Jenny Offill: Summary and reviews
Offill’s greatest strength is the element of surprise in her humor. There’s no mallet to the head in its presentation. It sneaks up and pounces gracefully, such as when the professor decides, in the middle of the night, that maybe she can get out of ghostwriting for the failed astronaut if she writes fortune cookies. She writes down four fortunes, the first of which is "Objects create happiness," and the last of which is, "Death will not touch you." And there is a moment while raising her daughter, when she has something to say about the phrase “sleeping like a baby,” that is worth waiting for. There are many of these scenes in Dept. of Speculation. (Reviewed by Rory L. Aronsky).
Full Review (752 words).
Before we learn that the professor in Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation has been hired
by a rich, failed astronaut to ghostwrite a book about the space program, she observes her baby daughter laughing at seeing the garden hose turn on. She writes in reaction, "All my life now appears to be one happy moment. This is what the first man in space said."
One happy moment – said by Yuri Gagarin, that first man in space. It could also be said by the many other astronauts who have been part of various space programs that have launched them into distances most of us can only imagine; that most of us look at in amazement through images in books and online. How could anyone want to retire from the work of exploring the final frontier, and seeing how far our species can go?
But retire they do, especially in light of NASA's space shuttle program ending in ...