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Posts Tagged ‘Jenny Offill’

A couple of months ago I posted a Woolf sighting on Jenny Offill’s Weather (which I just read for the second time). I’m happy to see that the book is on the shortlist for the UK’s Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Here, the six shortlisted authors recommend novels that have been meaningful to them–all of them worth noting–and Jenny Offill has chosen Mrs. Dalloway. 

Besides Offill, the 2020 shortlist features Angie Cruz, Bernardine Evaristo, Natalie Haynes, Hilary Mantel, and Maggie O’Farrell.

And so I picked up Mrs Dalloway and was thrilled by its subversive swings from the trivial to the sublime and back again. I also found in it a model for the novel I hoped to one day write. Her [Virginia Woolf’s] elaborate, far-reaching sentences were very different from my own but her insistence on the importance of recording the modest, the quiet, the almost unseen moments of life was a revelation and continues to be. – Jenny Offill on Mrs. Dalloway

 

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In fiction and in verse, Virginia Woolf continues to be recognized, referenced, and revered. How is it that the mention of her name or a subtle allusion to her work conjures instant identification and understanding, not just by writers or scholars, but by readers of all kinds. Here are two recent sightings.

Weather sighting

In Jenny Offill’s latest novel, Weather, she conveys her ideas and story in fragments that merge into a cohesive whole. Here’s her narrator, Lizzie, a university librarian:

“I do have one bookish superstition about my birthday. I like to see what Virginia Woolf said about an age in her diaries before I reach it. Usually it’s inspiring.”

She then quotes from Volume 3 of Woolf’s Diary about life being “if anything, quicker, keener at 44 than 24….”

Zooming in on poetry

A couple of weeks ago I had the good fortune to participate in a Zoom workshop with poet and essayist Natasha Sajé, after which I bought Vivarium, her poetic abecedary teeming with word play.

An entry for the letter “B” is the witty and wise “Beauty Secrets, Revealed by the Queen in Snow White.” The advice includes “Pace yourself for 35-55” and “Brace yourself for 55-85,” and this:

“Embrace a stash and a place, Virginia wrote, 80 years ago.”

Happy reading to all who are hunkered down in this time of sheltering at home.

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