My title comes from one of this book’s outstanding exchanges, one of many, actually. Presumably in a “Why her?” or at least “Why someone other than me?” context, the wife asks, “Taller? Thinner? Quieter?” and the husband answers, “Easier.”
So here you have an intense artist person, from whom a second novel was expected but never appeared, and a guy, one who seems pretty great and engaged and whatnot but who’s much more straightforward, mostly, and perhaps would be better off with less intensity.
I read this in one sitting, which I mean literally: I didn’t get out of my chair. Offill has a pretty incredible skillset, for lack of a better word. The husband and the wife, the pain of losing a baby and the joy of welcoming one, the fucking perfect baby and toddler scenes/quotes/one-liners, the interspersing of interesting tidbits (which ties into the wife’s character), the sheer outrage, the confusion, doubt, betrayal, but still love in their marriage (there’s a great quote in there about that part too, but you should just read it), the shifting voice, and even this “the wife” and “the husband” stuff somehow add up to not only something real and compelling but to something really different and fresh.
Trying to navigate the infidelity and its aftermath, including kid damage control (there are some references to “whisper fights,” which we’ve all had, and which suck, mightily), and also including the I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO-ness is just one of the things you don’t even have to read as much as feel. It’s pretty wonderful.