The Folded Clock

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The Folded Clock
304 pages; Knopf

Available at: | Barnes & Noble
Novelist Heidi Julavits’s best book yet isn’t a work of fiction, but a “journal” written for public consumption. The Folded Clock is a cleverly crafted thoughtfully entertaining series of meditations on personhood and culture inspired by a diary the author started keeping when she was 8.

Young Heidi’s journal was full of a child’s flat assertions of desire’ “I want to have a thin lovely figure...” reads that girlish record of her former self, “popular, lots of friends, no pimples, a nicer nose.” Happily, the 40-something Julavits’s diary is a far more complex and captivating read that contemplates everything from awkward social obligations to materialism, motherhood, and little white lies—even why The Bachelorfranchise has redeeming value.

A fixture of the literary scene, Julavits chronicles art shows and encounters with this or that unnamed writer friend, now and then touching on the competition she feels at times with her writer husband, Ben Marcus. Both overtly and covertly, she raises the questions, "How do we curate our own lives when everything about them may wind up in print?" "Can we ever expect naked truth from a diary, or do we invariably receive a sanitized version?"

Maybe, Julavits's work suggests, the best we can hope for is a deeply mediated honestly—for words are always equal parts mask and revelation.
— Lydia Millet