Tag Archives: Jenny Offill

A mother and her daughter

My daughter has a habit now of rifling through our drawers to see if anything inside might be of use to her. One day she unearthed the bride and groom that stood atop our wedding cake. The groom was discarded but the bride has been placed on a shelf in her room among the plastic pink horses with girlishly long manes. This is a high compliment, I discern, though my daughter does not say so explicitly.

p 57 Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill

“What about me?” Her daughter likes to ask this when the conversation veers out of her comprhension.”What about me?” A chip off the old block, the wife thinks.

p122 Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill

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What makes us pick up the stories we pick up, and what use do we make of them?

‘There is a story about a prisoner at Alcatraz who spent his nights in solitary confinement dropping a button on the floor then trying to find it again in the dark. Each night, in this manner, he passed the hours until dawn. I do not have a button. In all other respects my nights are the same.’

Jenny Offill, Dept. Of  Speculation 

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One of the odd things about being a writer is that you never reach a point of certainty, a point of mastery where you can say, Right. Now I understand how this is done. That is why so many talented people stop writing. It’s hard to tolerate this not-knowing. It’s hard to tolerate feeling like an idiot or an imposter, and it gets harder as the years tick by.

But I would argue that this feeling of uncertainty is actually the best practice you could have for the other important things you will do in your life. No one ever masters falling in love or being a parent or losing someone close to him. And who would want to master such things, really? Wandering through the woods, looking for a sudden sunlit clearing, that’s the most interesting part of it.

Jenny Offill in interview  with Matt Pieknik, March 31 2014 The Paris Review

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