READING THIS BOOK took way too long and that's time I cannot get back. In the first paragraph of The Folded Clock: A Diary, author Heidi Julavits writes about watching the clock as a child, wondering "Will this day ever end?" I asked that same question many times while reading.
Julavits offers a dense book of (surprise!) diary entries that each start with the word "today" and are followed by some sort of event. You know, like any of us would record in our own journaling. The thing is, I don't really want to read all the everyday things some stranger did with her mid-40s life. Last I checked, a diary is the place you dump all daily thoughts you don't want to tell anyone else, and probably the reason why isn't because they're so juicy or scandalous, but because they're so mind-numbingly boring.
Here's the rub: Julavits knows how boring it is to read a diary. The inspiration for writing The Folded Clock, she says, came after she found a box containing her childhood diaries. Before rereading those diaries, Julavits writes, she used to tell friends she'd known she wanted to write from the time she was eight years old, because she was a diligent diary-keeper. Yet when she rediscovered her childhood masterpieces, the evidence of her journalistic greatness, she writes, "they reveal me to possess the mind, not of a future writer, but of a future paranoid tax auditor. I exhibited no imagination, no trace of a style, no wit, no personality."
That's not a real glowing review, and it's about her own writing. It's on page three. There's just 287 to go. Yes, I realize she's cringing at the childishness of the writing, but the point is that she found something that made her cringe and then decided to do it again and sell it.
To be fair, Julavits has written several other books and I have not read a single one. Maybe if I were familiar with her work and thought she was so brilliant that I wanted to read 290 more pages of her musings, then I might love this book. She's a relatable author and shares some entertaining anecdotes.
Julavits talks a lot about her kids. She talks about writing. She fills pages with the intricacies of nit-picky spats with her husband. But mostly she gossips. She gossips about her friends. She gossips about other people in her Maine town. She gossips about The Bachelorette. Don't get me wrong; gossiping can be great, shallow, slightly evil fun. In this case, I just couldn't get myself to care.