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Publisher's Summary

“[A] jewel of a debut...abundantly satisfying.” (Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker)

A witty, intelligent novel of an American woman on the edge, by a brilliant new voice in fiction - “the glorious love child of Ottessa Moshfegh and Sally Rooney” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

As an adjunct professor of English in New York City with no hope of finding a permanent position, Dorothy feels “like a janitor in the temple who continued to sweep because she had nowhere else to be but who had lost her belief in the essential sanctity of the enterprise”. No one but her boyfriend knows that she’s just had a miscarriage, not even her therapists - Dorothy has two of them. Nor can she bring herself to tell the other women in her life: her friends, her doctor, her mentor, her mother. The freedom not to be a mother is one of the victories of feminism. So why does she feel like a failure? 

Piercingly intelligent and darkly funny, The Life of the Mind is a novel about endings: of youth, of professional aspiration, of possibility, of the illusion that our minds can ever free us from the tyranny of our bodies. And yet Dorothy’s mind is all she has to make sense of a world largely out of her control, one where disaster looms and is already here, where things happen but there is no plot. There is meaning, however, if Dorothy figures out where to look, and as the weeks pass and the bleeding subsides, she finds it in the most unlikely places, from a Las Vegas poolside to a living room karaoke session. In literature - as Dorothy well knows - stories end. But life, as they say, goes on.

©2021 Christine Smallwood (P)2021 Random House Audio

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False promo on Fresh Air provoked me to waste my money on this book.

Try not to think of those bodily functions or misfunctions that we keep to ourselves; think discusting. Not so much a life of the mind as it is a life of the id. The things that you would say yucky aboyt, then interweave some poorly played sex fantasies or Holden Caulfield adolescent dirty words brought up to date. If this is your cup of tea; go for it! If you’re expecting to dive into the reality of a young hopeful college teacher and the dramas of an English Department politics as promoted; forget it! Even the lackadaisical moderator seemed bored.

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