Thursday, January 08, 2015


The Buddhists say there are 121 states of consciousness. Of these, only three involve misery or suffering. Most of us spend our time moving back and forth between these three.
I've had trouble reading lately. Doing much of anything really. I can't focus, yet I need to distract myself.

Enter Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation. It's damn near the most perfect book I could've hope for, for my here and now. "The wife is praying a little. To Rilke, she thinks."

It mirrors my reality, so that I may reflect upon it. I want to read it again immediately.

It's the story of love and marriage and a lovely daughter, and betrayal.
Easier, he says.
I also was not a good wife. I also go to yoga to cry.
The wife has never not wanted to be married to him. This sounds false but it is true.

She has wanted to sleep with other people, of course. One or two in particular. But the truth is she has good impulse control. That is why she isn't dead. Also why she became a writer instead of a heroin addict. She thinks before she acts. Or more properly, she thinks instead of acts. A character flaw, not a virtue.
It's so hard to be kind.

"The Smallest Possible Disaster," by Elaine Blair in The New York Review of Books:
In the history of the novel, female adulterous desire has been a major force, female jealousy a minor one.

"Bridled Vows" by Roxane Gay in The New York Times:
The wife's pain and sorrow are rendered through a wryer brand of observation as she becomes the betrayed. It is easy to feel for her because she is a desperately interesting character. Each newly disclosed flaw only makes her more compelling. In fact, we know everything about the wife and how she thinks and feels and moves through the world. It is much more difficult to feel anything about the marriage because the husband is so secondary a character. He is an accessory and a bit player in the wife's meditations.
(My husband was always a secondary character.)

"Mother Courage," by James Woods, in The New Yorker:
If it is a distressed account of a marriage in distress, it is also a poem in praise of the married state. If it brutally tears apart the boredom and frustrations of parenthood, it also solidly inhabits the joys and consolations of having a child. If it laments the work not done, the books not written, the aspirations unfulfilled, it also represents work well done, a book written, the fruit of aspiration. [...] It is often extremely funny, and often painful; earnestly direct but glancingly ironic, even whimsical.

1 comment:

Water Park in Delhi NCR said...

Very interesting blog. A lot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that attract others, but I'm most definitely interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know.