2014: The Year We Met the Art Monster — and She Was Us



Eight pages into reading Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation last winter, still skeptical of the tiny, epigrammatic book, I came to a passage that halted me: “My plan was to never get married. I was going to be an art monster instead. Women almost never become art monsters because art monsters only concern themselves with art, never mundane things. Nabokov didn’t even fold his own umbrella. Vera licked his stamps for him.”

Months later, those short, simple sentences immobilize me every time I re-read them. The paragraph is a prelude to Offill’s narrator (a blocked writer known only as “the wife”) discovering that her husband is cheating. But it doesn’t need to be; even out of context, it resonates. Any woman artist who has chosen love or family over work, or fears she has, or even just fears she might one day, will find in this paragraph a mirror of…

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