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.
This diary is a diary in the way that Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater is a confession, or that Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year is a journal, meaning it is, and it isn’t ... The result is that each day feels very full, although little happens. And this fullness becomes a reminder of how a life can be improved by the passing of time. The Folded Clock is, among other things, an ode to maturity ... happily plotless, though it is not without narrative, and certainly not shapeless ... The intricate structure calls to mind fractal patterns or Renaissance sketches of eddying water, and the real achievement here may be that Julavits manages to make it appear unintentional. The order does not feel made, but found ... particularly dependent on the well-crafted persona of its narrator — witty, sly, critical, inventive and adventurous ... Her prose is especially liquid, and her sentences are unimpeachable. Julavits is not only a novelist, of course, but also an accomplished essayist ... a work so artful that it appears to be without artifice. This diary is a record of the interior weather of an adept thinker. In it, the mundane is rendered extraordinary through the alchemy of effortless prose. It is a work in which a self is both lost and found, but above all made.
... a playful, intimate, and deeply insightful collection ... defies categorization ... Julavits' insatiable drive for adventure energizes these stories. Her prose, which is clear, thoughtful and smart, illustrates the life of a woman who is both silly and serious ... The style of the book allows Julavits to explore and retreat rather than fully excavate, perhaps in a way that a memoir would not ... These stories display the work of a vivid, active, ever-questioning imagination.
... [Julavits] takes moments in time and blows them up with thought and introspection and tangential relations. She condenses them down into polished nuggets ... Immediately Julavits is winsome and likable on the page. She pre-empts all envy and repulsion by anticipating the reader’s potential reaction ... She is a narrator who is concerned with her presentation of self, but she manages to expose herself in a full-ish portrait, highlighting both her anxieties and petty humanness, and celebrating her own wit, resourcefulness and tenacity ... [Julavits] has looked at her world so thoroughly for so long, and the richness of accumulated time, the way cream rises to the top when milk settles, gives The Folded Clock a rooted sense of intimacy with the writer ... At times the more serious side of me wanted the author to take on heavier material. But her mind is so smart and delightful and open that even her missives on garage sale savvy and swimming and watching The Bachelorette opened up caverns of musings about life, death, and anxieties.