Reflections on being and becoming.
Novelist, Guggenheim Fellow and co-founder of the Believer magazine, Julavits (Writing/Columbia Univ.; co-editor, The Vanishers, 2012, etc.), now in her mid-40s, noticed that the smallest unit of time she experiences is no longer a minute, a day, nor even a week, but years. That disquieting perception inspired this book: “Since I am suddenly ten years older than I was, it seems, one year ago, I decided to keep a diary.” Time is much on her mind in gently philosophical entries that do not appear chronologically but instead are disrupted and reordered, recounting two years of her life in New York, where she and her husband teach; Maine, where she grew up yearning to leave and now spends joyful summers; and Germany, where the family lived during her husband’s fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin. Admitting that she is a “sub-sub-subtextual” reader of the world, Julavits analyzes her marriage; the needs and growing independence of her young son and daughter; her visits to a psychic, with whom she discusses the mystical power of objects and synchronicity (“My life seems marked by a high degree of coincidence and recursion,” Julavits confesses); former lovers; her aspirations as a writer; and such guilty pleasures as watching the reality series The Bachelorette, whose “love language” she and her husband gleefully parse. Other pastimes include shopping on eBay, which, she writes, “has immeasurably improved my quality of life more than doctors or drugs”; succumbing to temptation at yard sales; and swimming, despite her overwhelming fear of sharks. Some entries are slyly funny, gossipy and irreverent; others, quietly intimate, reveal recurring depression and anxiety, “alternate states of being” to which she gratefully returns: “When you become you again, you can actually greet yourself. You can welcome yourself back.”
An inventive, beautifully crafted memoir, wise and insightful.