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Book review: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

By David Wolf   May 2014

A desire to dismantle the novel has snaked its way through contemporary fiction. Plot, character, exposition and so on have, for writers such as Sheila Heti and David Shields, come to feel rusty, tediously artificial. In response to this literary fatigue, new kinds of novels have emerged, built from fragments, quotes, mini-essays, aphorisms, chunks of real life pasted onto the page. Jenny Offill’s second novel skillfully deploys many of these elements.

Dept. of Speculation is an unsentimental account of a marriage shaken by infidelity. It is the kind of book that…

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