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The Folded Clock: A Diary

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  3,452 ratings  ·  517 reviews

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 fortysomethin

Kindle Edition, 306 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Anchor
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I have been seeing a lot of chatter about this book in various book reviews (see below for a couple) and as a constant journaler myself, I'm always on the look-out for diaries or journals by interesting people who share my passion. I have not read anything by Heidi Julavits, so went in knowing absolutely nothing about her.

At first, I'll admit, I thought she was a bit unstable. Some of her admissions irked me and I found myself totally being a dick and judging her. But then as I read I actually f
I'm pretty sure that when I finally get around to reading Heidi Julavits' fiction, I'm going to enjoy it. As evidenced by her "diary" The Folded Clock she's plenty intelligent, has a keen, self-deprecatory sense of humor, and a vivid imagination. There was something about her quirky, neurotic musings with this that just left me scratching my head. I don't know if it was the fault of the book or just me, but I didn't quite love this as I'd hoped.

The diary format you'd think would work well with
Lisa Beaulieu
Clever. charming, off-beat, both the book and the narrator. Everytime I sat down with this book, I completely enjoyed myself. Until one day I just couldn't stand it! I realized it was sort of like reading an extended Facebook update, one long humble-brag. "I have long blonde hair and am considered pretty, but gee really so-and-so is so much prettier." "I spend my summers in Maine and travel for extended periods of time to Italy, but I'm just so kooky and neurotic!" I wanted to drown her in a bat ...more
Today when reading this book, I was reminded of a very difficult and troubled time in my younger days. One notable day during this time, I observed to my then-boyfriend the opinion that I'd identified a particular song that perfectly reflected my current interior state, if that interior state were to have sonic attributes.

I passed my headphones to the boyfriend and watched his face undergo one of the more rapid transformations I've had cause to witness. To the present day, this remains the only
Jessica Woodbury
I'm honestly at about 3.5 stars for this one. Reading this book every night was like having coffee with your smartest girlfriend. I loved that about it. Its weaknesses are mostly inherent to the diary format. Writing a daily essay that connects to something you did that day is somewhat limiting, though Julavits certainly makes the most of it. I'm sure it's more interesting than a memoir approach to documenting a year in her life.

On the other hand, with so many small looks into one moment or conv
Julie Ehlers
When it comes to memoir and personal essays, I've always believed the writer needs to get as specific as possible about his or her experiences. If you try to write a bunch of generalizations in order to appeal to a wider audience, no one's going to relate to what you're saying. It's only when you get really personal about what you've been through that people can feel a kinship with you.

I still believe that, but I feel like I now need to add a caveat: If you're writing about your personal experie
Today I finished this book, and wondered why those who seem to spend an extraordinary amount of time swimming in the pool of their own reflection can't seem to find the deep end of the pool. ...more
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of Sarah Manguso
The title comes from Julavits’ daughter’s mishearing of “folded cloth” but is apt in that it suggests time stretching and collapsing back on itself. Indeed, one reason for starting the journal was that she felt time had started to pass differently from how it did in her childhood. Whereas she once thought in terms of days, she realized in her forties that she now worked in weeks and months. She was also inspired by digging out her adolescent diary – though it was not nearly as profound or revela ...more
Bethany Johnsen
April 23

Today I finished Heidi Julavits' The Folded Clock and resumed a book I'd barely started, Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth. It's interesting how the disparate books you happen to be reading at or near the same time interact with each other in your brain and complement the experience of reading the other—even for someone like me, whose book choices have followed no singular logic, pulled in many directions.

I am working for a few more months at a bookstore before I start a Ph.D. program in Engli
May 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Folded Clock: A Diary by Heidi Julavits is a smart, clever, entertaining work. It is the fantasy diary we (meaning, I suppose, people who think about such things at all and attempt to write diaries or journals or any of those accounts of daily life) wish we wrote as opposed to what most of us actually come up with. Julavits holds different moments of her life, past and present, up in the light and watches what happens as the light breaks through these moments. It is more fragmentary than a m ...more
Apr 14, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I've listened to two or three Heidi Julavits interviews and in all of them she has come across as smart, funny, interesting, and, well, sane. I've listened to many books narrated by Tavia Gilbert and I love the way she can bring a story to life. This was a match made in heaven. Until, it wasn't. Is it Tavia's narration that makes Heidi seem unhinged? Is it the stories Heidi tells? The ones where she admittedly does something really stupid, realizes many years later that it was stupid, then decid ...more
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The truth is, I haven’t even finished “The Folded Clock: A Diary” yet. I believe I’m on the last pages and I’m heel skidding on the finale. On Tuesday I read the New Yorker instead. Partly it was a stall; Partly it was because I like to read the New Yorker on Mondays, but Monday was a holiday, so Tuesday became Hyper-Monday. Have I ever mentioned how I do this New Yorker thing? (I’m not sure why I think it should be so fascinating to everyone who lives outside of my brain.) I start reading every ...more
M. Sarki
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-wonders

Out of the blue I have been exposed to the writing of another somewhat contemporary literary icon. Her name is Heidi Julavits, significant other to writer Ben Marcus who is an unconfirmed ex-student of infamous teacher, editor, and writer Gordon Lish. I seem to remember Gordon making some not-so-nice remarks about Ben Marcus and feeling slighted or unappreciated by him. Lish not feeling credited enough with helping him, or something or other to that affect
Apr 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few days ago at my book club someone asked if anyone in the group wrote. I said I did, and I would love to publish a book one day. No one else wrote or had the same aspirations. They asked me what it would be about. "Not about, really," I tried to explain, sounding loopy and pretentious. Would it be fiction or nonfiction? "Nonfiction, I think." That's odd, you never want to read nonfiction, but you want to write nonfiction? "I mean, not really nonfiction, not like history or anything... like, ...more
This book is a hoot. Julavits hits my funny bone just so. If I started pulling the quotes that made me laugh out loud we'd be here all day, so suffice it to say that I found this book extremely hilarious. Exactly what I needed to get the taste of So Much Pretty out of my mouth. Even better, mixed in with all of the funny are some profound bits about Life that struck me perfectly.This had to squeeze a little in order to get to four stars because there were some parts that dragged too much for my ...more
Chris Blocker
May 7

Today I begin reading the new book by an author I adore. It's a non-fiction work in diary format, a departure from the author's normal tales. I look forward to my time in these pages. How often have I wanted to better know an artist whose work I love? This is my chance. I feel I am being invited to the author's residence for coffee and am allowed to ask anything. What insight will this author have? What are her deepest fears and most unspoken desires? What is she like when she isn't “being
I realized about half way through that if I didn't stop reading, I wouldn't be able to read another Julavits novel. And I'm not sure I stopped soon enough.

Those novels--specifically "The Vanishers" and "The Uses of Enchantment"-- have been important to me. At one point in "The Folded Clock" Julavits overhears two male writer friends of hers describe a third man as "not a threat," which makes her wonder whether a woman novelist would ever be considered a threat. If her novels fail that test, it
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jul 07, 2015 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
I really loved the cover and the concept but couldn't get into the book itself. ...more
Apr 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like someone telling you her secrets (and others' secrets) and then musing on them, philosophizing about them.

Also, and maybe more importantly she has convinced me to get rid of my bad luck pants. Yes, I have a pair of trousers that are chocolate brown with a light stripe thru them. I bought them secondhand and it seems that every time I wear them, I get bad luck. I kept wearing them, though, because I wanted to resist superstition, and then I finally stopped wearing them because who wants to kn
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to live inside of Julavits' head forever. This dairy is approachable, hilarious and honest. THE FOLDED CLOCK's language is beautiful--I loved getting lost in this book. ...more
How unassuming is a diary? It is the form that most teenage girls take to, and thus, carrying no pretensions of art, it is the perfect form for surprising us with art. This is not the confessional tell-all feelings-fest that you think it is. Or at least that's not all it is. It definitely plays with concepts of confessional, tell-all, and feelings. She goes there, but not without a lot of self-conscious humor and a lot of subversive play.

Time and the self are both deconstructed, and what is a di
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, memoir
Who would have thought a book that starts every chapter with Today...would be both so funny and so interesting? Each diary entry starts with some sort of minor event, but then builds upon itself to become something insightful, revealing or just entertaining. Freeing herself of the conventions of plot and character found in a novel, Julavits just lets the stories flow. Excellent.

I received an ARC of The Folded Clock: A Diary.
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Julavits would be an entertaining dinner guest—smart, witty and yet self-aware, comfortable in her own skin. Her writing snaps. Despite the title, this book isn’t so much a diary as it is a constructed set of loosely coupled, short essays. Each entry starts with the phrase “Today I…” but then launches into often unexpected directions. Loved it.
What a great book! It's a diary, although the years are not specified and the dates are not consecutive.  

Each of the entries starts "Today I ..." and what follows is a riff and whatever it was she did or thought on that day - almost like she's writing Jazz.  Some entries are funny (meeting an elderly famous person when she's wearing a bathing suit),  some self-reflective (why is her dieting husband threatening?), and metaphoric (if the barn stands without the rocks for support, her marriage sho
Liina Bachmann
Jul 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, non_fiction
It was very amusing at some parts and I felt sorry for Heidi for having SO much on her mind ALL the time. Stuff to worry about, zillion scenarios for every mundane everyday situation..Yes she is witty and very contemporary indeed but three stars because self-centred way beyond my limit of tolerance. And what is rather weird is that she strives to be close to the reader by sharing very personal details but I found very few moments in the book where I could connect with what she was going on about ...more
Aug 03, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't finish this book. I got to about the 200th page and finally put it down and asked myself for the 100th time, mid sentence, "why in the world am I forcing myself to read this book that constantly has me questioning why I feel the need to finish something that I do not enjoy in the least bit." I feel bad giving a low rating because I have tremendous respect for authors that are willing to put out books, especially about themselves. However saying that, it bored me to death. ...more
First Second Books
I'm reading "The Folded Clock" by Heidi Julavits and really enjoying it. She's sort of invented a new literary form: the short personal essay inspired by daily events. She's got a great voice as a writer, and ably pulls off what the best memoirists all seem to manage: making herself understood at the same time that she helps me understand myself better, too. ...more
Jordana Horn Gordon
Rock on with your smart self, Heidi Julavits. Rock on.
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 / 5

Brilliant, breezy, brainy crossed with intimate, surprising, moving -- though not necessarily all in one essay. Probably my only "complaint" here is that by pure virtue of being packed together and untitled (except for the date [sans year]), some of the essays can't but get lost. I read it without marking it up, but I'm going back with pen in hand to highlight my favorite parts.

I don't think I've read anything quite like this: an accretion of masterly riffs and digressions on one isolate
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I had not yet read anything by Heidi Julavits when I entered my name into a First Reads contest for her memoir 'The Folded Clock: A Diary'. I won a copy and this is my 'thank you' review.

Memoirs and diaries are among my favorite genres and I have enjoyed almost all of them. However, this book expanded the edges of my experience of memoirs, because it is unlike any other memoir I've read. The reader is told that the entries take place over 2 year - but they are not in consecutive order and jump a
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Reading Along Wit...: Heidi Julavits, “The Folded Clock” 1 18 Apr 09, 2015 06:01AM  

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Heidi Suzanne Julavits is an American author and co-editor of The Believer magazine. She has been published in The Best Creative Nonfiction Vol. 2, Esquire, Story, Zoetrope All-Story, and McSweeney's Quarterly. Her novels include The Mineral Palace (2000), The Effect of Living Backwards (2003) and The Uses of Enchantment (2006) and The Vanishers (2012).

She was born and grew up in Portland, Maine,

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