[Reading] The Folded Clock

the habit of being_the folded clock

“I am a jack-of-all-trades. I edit and teach and at times desire to be a clothing designer or an artist (one who doesn’t draw or paint or sew) and I write everything but poetry and I am a mother and a social maniac and a misanthrope and a burgeoning self-help guru and a girl who wants to look pretty and a girl who wants to look sexy and a girl who wants to look girly and a woman in her middle forties who wishes not to look like anything at all, who wishes sometimes to vanish.”
―Heidi Julavits, The Folded Clock: A Diary


Having read a good bit of pre-pub hype on Heidi Julavits’ The Folded Clock I went back and forth several times about buying it. Ultimately I caved and bought the book. What pushed me to click the purchase button? The cover. Really. I found it lovely and wondered just what might be inside the pages.

Ideally, this is the type of book I would like: smart, funny, self-deprecating woman writes about her life. There were moments I laughed at her, moments I thought I might like to talk to her over a bottle of wine, and moments I was just plain bored.

As a long standing keeper, I thought the diary format would work well however the entries are not in chronological order and often have nothing to do with what she did that day despite all starting with Today I… A few entries in and you realize the entries are merely snippets that serve as a means to deliver anecdotes—some funny, some not. What I did enjoy: Julavits is charmingly neurotic, the reoccurrence of objects (an old tap handle so impossibly beautiful she carries it in her bag and draws it every morning before settling into work), and the sense that Julavits truly likes herself (a woman who likes herself seems so very rare in our culture).


3 thoughts on “[Reading] The Folded Clock

  1. The cover really is quite pretty, sorry the writing didn’t deliver.It took me many years, but you know what? I like myself and am pleased with the woman I grew up to be, wrinkles, grey hair, softer than my 30’s muscles, too tender heart, a loud laugh,…
    they all make me!


  2. I’ve had a hard time articulating my feelings about this book, but you have hit on some of them. I did not read about it pre-publication, I stumbled upon it in a bookstore, but I too bought it for the cover and concept, sometimes felt bored, and laughed a little. I liked the last paragraph of her June 21st entry, when she describes her writing process. I was also annoyed on many occasions and haven’t sorted out how to describe that annoyance. Part of me thinks she wanted to annoy us, at least a little bit. I strongly disliked the discussion with her daughter she shares on August 6th. I did finish the book, and I’m not someone committed to finishing every book I start. I think it was hope that kept me reading, hope I’d find a golden nugget that made it all worthwhile, but I never folded a page corner. At this point I’ve simply let it go.


  3. i LOVE the cover of this book for the most part because it reminds me of my friend from Maine. I really liked reading this as summer descended here. I think I felt emotional ties because I have several relocated Maine friends. I had to cry a bit when she wrote about pressing her face to stone quarried from her hometown to build a bridge in her new town. I used to stare at wildflowers in empty lots after I moved from the Midwest. I picked up Women In Clothes (great cover too) and can’t get in to it.


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