The Folded Clock
Like many young people, Heidi Julavits kept a diary. Decades later she found her old diaries in a storage bin, and hoped to discover the early evidence of the person (and writer) she’d since become. Instead, “The actual diaries revealed me to possess the mind of a paranoid tax auditor.”
Thus was born a desire to try again, to chronicle her daily life as a fortysomething woman, wife, mother, and writer. The dazzling result is The Folded Clock, in which the diary form becomes a meditation on time and self, youth and aging, betrayal and loyalty, friendship and romance, faith and fate, marriage and family, desire and death, gossip and secrets, art and ambition.
The Folded Clock is as playful as it is brilliant, a tour de force by one of the most gifted prose stylists in American letters.
When Julavits, a novelist (The Vanishers) and founding editor of the Believer magazine, rediscovered the diary she kept as a young girl, she was disappointed by its lack of imagination, style, and wit. So, in her 40s, she set out to chronicle the next two years of her life, complete with all the idiosyncrasies missing from her youthful writings. Displaying both charm and stark honesty, Julavits admits to having an abortion when she was 19, explores the dissolution of her first marriage, and laments the worst sex of her life. Receiving a wasp sting reminds her of the time she was in the window seat on a red-eye flight next to two sleeping passengers. Instead of disturbing them to use the lavatory, she attempted to relieve herself in an airsickness bag. And hearing an ambulance siren or conducting a fruitless Internet search unleashes her neurotic imagination. Each entry begins "Today I," just as she began her diary as a girl. The entries aren't ordered, and many depict Julavits as a not-always-likable woman of privilege. The diary angle makes for a clever hook, but masks what this really is a compelling collection of intimate, untitled personal essays that reveal one woman's ever-evolving soul.