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Mother of Invention

On Jenny Offill’s Dept of Speculation for BookForum.

In 1999, Jenny Offill published her first novel, Last Things, written in the voice of a girl caught between her passive scientist father and her mother, an increasingly unstable fabulist who takes her daughter on the run to nowhere in particular. Startlingly assured in inhabiting a child’s perspective, it was a cousin to another pair of American debuts, Mona Simpson’s Anywhere but Here and Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping …