Weather
From the author of the nationwide best seller Dept. of Speculation--one of the New York Times Book Review's Ten Best Books of the Year--a shimmering tour de force about a family, and a nation, in crisisLizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practice her other calling: she is a fake shrink. For years she has tended to her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. They have both stabilized for the moment, but Lizzie has little chance to spend her new free time with husband and son before her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. She's become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right-wingers worried about the decline of western civilization. As Lizzie dives into this polarized world, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you've seen the flames beyond its walls. When her brother becomes a father and Sylvia a recluse, Lizzie is forced to address the limits of her own experience--but still she tries to save everyone, using everything she's learned about empathy and despair, conscience and collusion, from her years of wandering the library stacks . . . And all the while the voices of the city keep floating in--funny, disturbing, and increasingly mad.

Weather Details

TitleWeather
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 11th, 2020
PublisherKnopf Publishing Group
ISBN-139780385351102
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Novels

Weather Review

  • Marchpane
    January 1, 1970
    weather noun: the state of the atmosphere at a particular place and timeweather transitive verb: to come safely through a difficult period or experience First they came for the coral, but I did not say anything because I was not a coral. I loved every minute of Weather. It wont be to everyones taste, thanks to the choppy style, specific brand of humour and refusal to deliver conventional narrative movement, but I thought it was brilliant. This novel is both sardonic and warm, reflective of our weather noun: the state of the atmosphere at a particular place and timeweather transitive verb: to come safely through a difficult period or experience “First they came for the coral, but I did not say anything because I was not a coral.” I loved every minute of Weather. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, thanks to the choppy style, specific brand of humour and refusal to deliver conventional narrative movement, but I thought it was brilliant. This novel is both sardonic and warm, reflective of our anxious times but also strangely reassuring. It’s got wit and wisdom and a fantastic narrative voice in librarian Lizzie. There are plot threads—Lizzie meets an attractive stranger; supports her addict brother; works as an assistant for the charismatic Sylvia who hosts a climate change podcast called “Hell or High Water”; becomes obsessed with doomsday preppers—but these threads don't go very far. This is a novel more concerned with potentialities, the tension of the time before, of something about to happen. This extends not just to domestic worries, but an impending existential doom. Inaction and indecision permeate Weather, as does the ‘incredulity response’: the human tendency to freeze up in a crisis, the brain unable to take in what is happening. As much as this novel delights in absurdity, its comedy is freighted with darkness. “A turtle was mugged by a gang of snails. The police came to take a report, but (the turtle) couldn’t help them. ‘It all happened so fast,’ he said.”
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    When one reads as many book as I do, the search for something different but good, is ongoing. This author seems to fill the bill. She takes the reader inside the thoughts of a young woman, Lizzie, who is juggling many of life's trials. She is a mother, a wife, tried to take care of her mother, and her brother who has had a problem with drugs. Additionally, the doomsday prediction with the climate and the unfriendly political situation, also preys on her mind. She works in a university library, When one reads as many book as I do, the search for something different but good, is ongoing. This author seems to fill the bill. She takes the reader inside the thoughts of a young woman, Lizzie, who is juggling many of life's trials. She is a mother, a wife, tried to take care of her mother, and her brother who has had a problem with drugs. Additionally, the doomsday prediction with the climate and the unfriendly political situation, also preys on her mind. She works in a university library, sans degree, due to the help of her mentor, and has been convinced to answer letters by said mentor, with a podcast called, Hell or high water. She is a very busy, too busy, young woman. She is also a character that is very relateable.The book is written in snippets of thoughts, an inner monologue that skips from thought to thought. When one ponders this way of writing fiction, this structure, one realizes that this is the way one thinks. Our inner thoughts actually are like this, we don't think in a long diatribe but often short observations. I really enjoyed this, not only does it make for a quick read, but it was never boring. It also adequately captured what was going on in her life, in an unusual but effective format. We can see just how much she is struggling for balance in this too busy life, and how she handles the many different strands. ARC by publisher.
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  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    NOW AVAILABLE!!Can I ask you something, Will says one night and I sure, ask me something.How do you know all this?Im a fucking librarian.fun fact about that line, beyond the fuck, yeah! of it in my heart: the verb between I and sure is missing in my ARC, so the quote is totes [sic], but im 2/3 convinced that the word was intentionally omitted. as the novel draws to its close (and that is on page 170 of the ARC's 201 pages), and as the sense of anxiety and fragmentation that is the modern NOW AVAILABLE!!Can I ask you something, Will says one night and I sure, ask me something.“How do you know all this?”“I’m a fucking librarian.”fun fact about that line, beyond the “fuck, yeah!” of it in my heart: the verb between “I” and “sure” is missing in my ARC, so the quote is totes [sic], but i’m 2/3 convinced that the word was intentionally omitted. as the novel draws to its close (and that is on page 170 of the ARC's 201 pages), and as the sense of anxiety and fragmentation that is the modern condition—in the novel's world and our own—escalates, the number of ‘typos’—missing words, punctuation, etc, also increase, so they seem to be functioning as orthographic echoes of what is happening to the novel’s characters and their our world—just one more example of everything falling apart. and maybe it's a coincidence or a copyeditor rushing through the end, but it feels intentional, particularly since there's an earlier line*, They say when you're lonely you start to lose words... if i’m wrong, oh well, and you can blame NYU's undergrad english program for conditioning me to look too hard at shit all those years ago. and to think it is acceptable to drop douchey phrases like “orthographic echoes” into a review. and now i have gone on a tangent just because i didn't want anyone to think that missing word was because of my own carelessness. doubledouche.douchiness aside, i wouldn’t ordinarily read into this situation, but this is a book that knows just what it’s doing; it’s deceptively slight, with short, scattershot paragraphs telling a story but also working double-time with tonal subtext (is that a thing?)(and if it is, is it douchey?), building emotional atmosphere in scenes that seem innocently everyday on the surface, but low-level ominous when viewed as a whole. My son comes in to show me something. It looks like a pack of gum, but it's really a trick. When you try to take a piece, a metal spring snaps down on your finger. "It hurts more than you think," he warns me.Ow.i mean, it's not foreshadowing, this isn't chekhov's gum gag or anything, but many of the book's short paragraphs could stand alone as prose poems, building emotional weight, meaning more than their simplicity appears, hindsight and subtext and yadda, oh my. i’d heard wonderful things about this author, but had never read her before, and when my back said "no" about getting out of bed last week**, i figured this would be a good opportunity to check her out; a one-sittinglying book about a lapsed-academic turned librarian responding to the questions of inhabitants of a world on the precipice of disaster, and trying to hold it all together whilst her personal life also unravels. and it is gooooood.the end.May You Be Among the Survivors.* which i just realized is on page 169—i.e. the page before that quote, so i'm pointing the finger of textual support, BOOM!** and before you ask—all of this handwringing about ARE THEY OR ARE THEY NOT TYPOS??? was before i gobbled the pain pills.*************************************a wonderful single-sitting book to read when a busted back keeps you abed. review to come.come to my blog!
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  • Debbie
    January 1, 1970
    And now for something completely differentStrange little novel that had me in the palm of its hand. Theres not really a plot, but sometimes, who needs one? Plot lovers, please dont be scared off. Its full of insights that are accessible and fascinating, and there is a story thread, I promise.You probably want to know, whats the thread? The thread is Librarian Lizzies life as a wife, mother, professional letter writer, and helper of her brother, who is trying to stay clean. Amid all of this, were And now for something completely different…Strange little novel that had me in the palm of its hand. There’s not really a plot, but sometimes, who needs one? Plot lovers, please don’t be scared off. It’s full of insights that are accessible and fascinating, and there is a story thread, I promise.You probably want to know, what’s the thread? The thread is Librarian Lizzie’s life as a wife, mother, professional letter writer, and helper of her brother, who is trying to stay clean. Amid all of this, we’re a fly on the wall of her head, hearing her musings. Her head goes everywhere—from thinking about normal activities in her family to bemoaning the scary shape of our planet. There are random thoughts and facts, observations on life, even a few jokes. It sort of seemed like a well-thought-out journal. Lizzie is concerned, but she doesn’t go off the deep end—that would be a whole different book. Instead, her mind is just plain lively, her thoughts irresistible. The language is simple but the things she talks about are complex. She doesn’t go all academic on us, though, to my complete happiness. It’s a little headier than I like, but strangely I didn’t mind—probably because she isn’t hoity-toity. What she does is very skillful, yet it seems effortless.Offill manages to infuse it all with the anxiety, frustration, and sadness surrounding big issues, like climate change and current politics. She also throws in an odd fact here and there, things you wish you’d remember if you ever get to be on Jeopardy.Here’s a fun fact (I fact-checked this, lol, and it is indeed true):“There is a species of moth in Madagascar that drinks the tears of sleeping birds.”Here’s a bit of wisdom:“My friend who works in hospice says don’t tell dying people they won’t be around for the beach trip, apples in fall, etc. No more do that than knock a crutch out from under a person with a broken leg.”And here is some hilarity:“…the government has restrictions about what you can name your kid. Sex Fruit and Fat Boy are forbidden. Violence and Number 16 Bus Shelter are okay...I’m going to name the baby Fat Sex Bus, he tells me.”I’ve been meaning to read an earlier book by Offill, Dept. of Speculation, which has lots of positive reviews. I didn’t rush to read it, though, because it sounded like it was just a bunch of snippets. I figured it would an author who spit out philosophies and gazed at belly buttons—no thanks. I usually don’t like reality snippets mixed up in my make-believe. Now, I’ve moved this one way up in my queue. If it’s anything like Weather, I’ll be in pig heaven.I just loved this book to death. If she writes another book (man, I hope she does), I’ll be the first in line. My only complaint is that the book is so short. Fast readers can probably even read this one in one sitting.Highly recommended.Thanks to Edelweiss for the advance copy.
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  • BlackOxford
    January 1, 1970
    Almost the BluesWhat the new world of literary America consists of perhaps: diary entries; the not quite aphorisms of a typical NYC life; the recording of trivia amidst cataclysmic events. There is obviously a selection of things to be noted/published. But there are no conclusions or points to be made. Whatever story there is is left to the readers imagination. Blanks are filled in and events connected by the same process that one unconsciously corrects errors and typos in print copy.Weather is Almost the BluesWhat the new world of literary America consists of perhaps: diary entries; the not quite aphorisms of a typical NYC life; the recording of trivia amidst cataclysmic events. There is obviously a selection of things to be noted/published. But there are no conclusions or points to be made. Whatever story there is is left to the reader’s imagination. Blanks are filled in and events connected by the same process that one unconsciously corrects errors and typos in print copy.Weather is a sort of literary phenomenology, an attempt to present just what occurs to consciousness. In this case, the consciousness of a university librarian of middle-age, middle-income, middle-brow, and middle of the road politics during the election of Donald Trump. “Everything is happening much faster than expected,” says one of the bit-players. There is confusion and consternation; but life goes on.It is only the various nutcases whom the librarian encounters who are concerned about ‘the big picture.’ “But what’s going to happen to the American weather?” one red-faced man cries. Another promotes the GOOD NEWS of some evangelical sect. A good friend and mentor is all about something to do with Native American rights (or is it environmental issues?) and needs help responding to the thousands of emails from her fans worried about every conceivable physical, environmental, and spiritual disaster. “Take care of your teeth,” the dotty neighbour warns. And life goes on.Pressing issues nag from every side: how to spot a terrorist; emigration to Israel; engaging with plans for world peace; dealing with the unpleasantness of individual human beings on the subway. Then there’s the tedium of dealing with an addicted brother whose primary talent is haplessness. The television and YouTube provide distractions - from the most effective forms of self-harm to the monks of Mount Athos to Buddhist practice to sex robots. Who to choose to accompany you on your apocalyptic ‘doomstead’ is a chronic worry. Planning for disaster is never finished. And life, of course, goes on.My opinion: these people are pretty far up their own backsides. Not being able to decide what is important is a fatal condition. Such downtrodden lives. From the Have a Heart humane mousetrap to the coy liaison with the sexy French Canadian, it’s all too tragically precious. 1960’s Frisco hippiedom morphed into 21st century Brooklyn Heights grandchildren. Life does go on for these folk. Thank goodness it isn’t mine.
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  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    Loved it!!!Audiobook/ sync... with the physical book.The audio-narration is read by Cassandra Campbell....( a well known pro in the audiobook-world).This is not an easy book to review....My guess is that readers will either appreciate and enjoy it....Or....They wont. I enjoyed Dept. of Speculation....so I had a pretty good idea of what I might be getting into Unconventional Unique beauty....This book exceeded my expectations. I liked it even more! It really is like poetry .... and/ or perhaps Loved it!!!Audiobook/ sync... with the physical book.The audio-narration is read by Cassandra Campbell....( a well known pro in the audiobook-world).This is not an easy book to review....My guess is that readers will either appreciate and enjoy it....Or....They won’t. I enjoyed “Dept. of Speculation”....so I had a pretty good idea of what I might be getting into — “Unconventional Unique beauty”....This book exceeded my expectations. I liked it even more! It really ‘is’ like poetry .... and/ or perhaps one might say it’s similar to short stories - or stream-of consciousness - writing.How many FAKE SHRINKS do you know? Come on....you must be able to think of at least one of your friends who earns the title...right?/! Or.... maybe ‘you’re’ the best well known fake shrink you know—-in that case: good for you!Lizzie Benson is the fake shrink librarian you’ll meet in “Weather”.You’ll meet Lizzie’s brother, sister-in-law, husband, child, and a podcast star.As to what this book is about .... well, on any given day, or hour, my answer might change. Sorry folks....it’s a book to be experienced. I think it’s easier to discuss with others who have already read it....( analyze some of the sentences for fun)...rather than try to explain this book in a review. Instead .....here are a few teaser sentences, ( not exactly perfectly quoted, but ‘close’), and in no chronological order ——to ‘anything’.....”Maybe I can stop having that dream now…the one where my brother shows up and says, ‘I can die now’”.....”I hate weddings because I cry and drink too much… But this time I got lucky, Catherine got pregnant and they had a wedding at City Hall”.....A woman in her 40s was told by a doctor that she needed to improve her health. He said that she should go jogging 2 miles every day. Two weeks later she went back to see the doctor. He asked how she was doing. She said she was doing pretty well, except she was 28 miles from home..... “People call our neighborhood ‘Little Pakistan’... but not the people who live here”. ....”Nothing lasts forever… But an exception is made for the earth and sky”....It’s Monopoly day”....”Lately I observe that I dress like the kids on campus for maybe they dress like me”. ....”Breathing in....and breathing out.... I know I cannot escape old age. I know that I am of the nature of getting sick, I know that I am at the nature to die, breathing out, I know that I cannot escape dying. “Weather” is about many things...life, marriage, parenthood, family, friendship, aging, climate change, fears, hope, and acceptance.It’s tragic and sad at times, humorous, and thought-provoking ....Mostly ....I think it’s beautifully real!I’m started to have a girl crush on Jenny Offill
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  • Esil
    January 1, 1970
    4 stars so close to 5/stars!Theres something that seriously clicks between me and Jennifer Offills writing. I loved The Dept. of Speculation and, again, loved Weather. This is a very short novel, told through a series of first person vignettes. The narrator is a librarian, living in New York with her husband and young son, and eventually her addict brother. Each paragraph is a quick impressionistic reflection on the librarys patrons, parenthood, the state of her marriage, her enmeshment with 4 stars — so close to 5/stars!There’s something that seriously clicks between me and Jennifer Offill’s writing. I loved The Dept. of Speculation and, again, loved Weather. This is a very short novel, told through a series of first person vignettes. The narrator is a librarian, living in New York with her husband and young son, and eventually her addict brother. Each paragraph is a quick impressionistic reflection on the library’s patrons, parenthood, the state of her marriage, her “enmeshment” with her brother, climate change and the state of the world — with an occasional joke thrown in. This won’t be for everyone. It isn’t a story. But I loved it. I love Offil’s honesty and sensibility. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
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  • Meike
    January 1, 1970
    Now Nominated for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020Jenny Offill describes what it feels like to live in today's America, she writes about the political and social weather, the charged atmosphere that has enveloped the nation. Her protagonist Lizzie Benson works as a librarian without a traditional degree, thus administrating knowledge without being formally qualified - but, in the metaphorical sense, who really is? In the age of fragmented filter bubbles and the rise of hate, Lizzie also Now Nominated for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020Jenny Offill describes what it feels like to live in today's America, she writes about the political and social weather, the charged atmosphere that has enveloped the nation. Her protagonist Lizzie Benson works as a librarian without a traditional degree, thus administrating knowledge without being formally qualified - but, in the metaphorical sense, who really is? In the age of fragmented filter bubbles and the rise of hate, Lizzie also navigates her roles as wife and mother while trying to help her brother, a recovering addict with the need for overwhelming emotional support. And then her old academic mentor Sylvia Liller hires her to answer her fan mail, written by various listeners of her podcast "Hell and High Water" about the state of affairs. Lizzie tries to keep up with the demands, tries to come to terms with the world around her, all the impressions, emotions and events that exhaust her powers. She aims to fulfill everybody's needs, has supported her ailing mother, dropped out of graduate school to save her brother, now wants to be a loving wife to her game designer husband and mother to her smart little boy, she wants to help keep her brother clean, plus she is eager to do a good job at the library and answering the mail for Sylvia - the messages that arrive add additional voices of fear, doom and anger that intrude Lizzie's thoughts. Then there is a range of minor characters, from enigmatic car service owner Mr. Jimmy to the clients at the library, for whom Lizzie feels different kinds of responsibility. This is a well-constructed book full of witty and often funny descriptions that aim to illustrate the emotional and psychological toll our time takes, both for the individual and for families. Of course, the title also refers to climate change, an issue that troubles Lizzie. Still, I didn't really warm to this text. This might come down to personal taste - the novel is certainly clever, but I didn't find it particularly gripping and had to make a conscious effort to concentrate on the text as I wasn't immersed in the writing, partly because the story itself takes a backseat and the atmosphere, the title-giving weather, is the real star. All in all, this is a very intelligent and clever book, but it didn't fully win me over.
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  • lark benobi
    January 1, 1970
    I stayed up past midnight to finish, exhilarated by the prose, and excited about every exquisite perfect detail, and eager for the perceptions and the recognitions that came tumbling along on every page...and now I'm done, and I just don't know. I don't think I'm going to remember this in a year. The tiny paragraphs of insight, one after another, remind me a little too much of Twitter. "Good Twitter," but still. Reading this novel was like watching a gentle rain falling on a pond.
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  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    I first feel compelled to clear up some confusion on the part of the main character about academic librarians. As someone who has supervised students in an academic library, I have at times heard them refer to themselves as "librarians" but always correct them. Librarians do require a degree (MC does not have one) and do not spend their days checking out books, shelving books, or ordering random books based on whim. Many times, academic librarians are faculty members with the additional I first feel compelled to clear up some confusion on the part of the main character about academic librarians. As someone who has supervised students in an academic library, I have at times heard them refer to themselves as "librarians" but always correct them. Librarians do require a degree (MC does not have one) and do not spend their days checking out books, shelving books, or ordering random books based on whim. Many times, academic librarians are faculty members with the additional responsibilities faculty members hold, such as publishing/research, advising, and committee work in addition to whatever role they play in the library. I can understand if the character thinks she is a librarian but that's the work of our very hardworking staff. The only days I did work like that as a librarian were to cover student assistant illness or because I needed a break.I really want this book to work for me. After I read her last one, which I found forgettable, I would hear women slightly younger than me glow on about it on podcasts, best read of the last decade, etc. It just didn't have that impact on me. I was looking forward to this one because of the librarian aspect but it turns out - not actually a librarian. And yes this is the hill I will die on. The book is short and fragmented and the basic parts of the story that keep coming back around are the MC and her spouse, and an actual longterm relationship without a lot of drama, except for that caused by MC's need to play codependent with her addict brother who can't hang on to jobs, relationships, or sobriety. MC worries a lot and also does mailing and clerical work for a woman who is like a prophet of climate change, which is where the weather element comes through I suppose. Accurate depiction of SAHM culture and 21st century school culture, and too much technology running the show.I just don't think it had a great impact on me as a reader and will be hard to recall at any detail later. I really want to like this! So frustrating.
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  • Eric Anderson
    January 1, 1970
    Although I read Offills novel Dept. of Speculation over five years ago during one joyously long reading session on a plane, it stands out in my mind as so stylistically unique with a voice that seamlessly blends humour with poignant critiques on love and modern life. Her new novel Weather uses a similar style of narrative while engaging more overtly with current politics and social anxiety. Rather than a linear story were presented with clipped sections of text surrounding the life of Lizzie Although I read Offill’s novel “Dept. of Speculation” over five years ago during one joyously long reading session on a plane, it stands out in my mind as so stylistically unique with a voice that seamlessly blends humour with poignant critiques on love and modern life. Her new novel “Weather” uses a similar style of narrative while engaging more overtly with current politics and social anxiety. Rather than a linear story we’re presented with clipped sections of text surrounding the life of Lizzie Benson, a librarian and mother living on the east coast of America. Brief scenes from her life are interspersed with paragraphs from journals or jokes. Together these form an impression (rather than a complete portrait) of her life and a sense of being in the time proceeding and immediately after Trump’s election. Hanging over the book is its characters’ impending sense of doom and a need to develop survival strategies for what they assume to be an inevitable disaster. Read my full review of Weather by Jenny Offill on LonesomeReader
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  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    Offill writes in witty, short paragraphs that mimic diary-like entries. It is a quirky style that works surprisingly well. The author of these entries is Lizzie Benson, a curious librarian that absorbs odd facts about climate change, religion, and much more. These blurbs are peppered among entries that catalog how she is weathering lifes challenges. There is her brother, Henry, a recovering addict that she allows to live with her periodically. And then there is her side job answering doomsday Offill writes in witty, short paragraphs that mimic diary-like entries. It is a quirky style that works surprisingly well. The ‘author’ of these entries is Lizzie Benson, a curious librarian that absorbs odd facts about climate change, religion, and much more. These blurbs are peppered among entries that catalog how she is ‘weathering’ life’s challenges. There is her brother, Henry, a recovering addict that she allows to live with her periodically. And then there is her side job answering doomsday emails sent to Sylvia Liller, creator of the podcast ‘Hell and High Water’. Sylvia found them too depressing to answer them herself.Her husband Ben makes educational video games for a living as he was unable to find a job with his Classics PhD degree. Go figure! Son Eli now attends public school in contrast to his previous private school. Neighbors include the polite drug dealer and the rantor, Mrs. Kovinski. You decide if Lizzie is ‘weathering’ her life well! At least, she is trying!
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  • Gumble's Yard
    January 1, 1970
    Now longlisted for the 2020 Women's Prize.I hope to join an upcoming Book Club discussion of Jenny Offills 2014 second novel Dept of Speculation (shortlisted for the Folio Prize); and, this, her third novel Weather appeared on a number of 2020-preview lists.This book is very much in the style of Dept. of Speculation a style I described in my review of that book as elliptical and aphoristic style.Offil said in many interviews around Dept. of Speculation that she enjoys wandering the non-fiction Now longlisted for the 2020 Women's Prize.I hope to join an upcoming Book Club discussion of Jenny Offill’s 2014 second novel “Dept of Speculation” (shortlisted for the Folio Prize); and, this, her third novel “Weather” appeared on a number of 2020-preview lists.This book is very much in the style of Dept. of Speculation – a style I described in my review of that book as elliptical and aphoristic style.Offil said in many interviews around Dept. of Speculation that she enjoys wandering the non-fiction aisles of university libraries, pulling books and random, and noting any facts which catch her interest and she can use in her books.Here she embraces that idea by making her main character a University librarian.Lizzie gets a side job supporting her ex research supervisor - a climate change podcaster Sylvia. She accompanies her to summits and meetings, meeting the super-rich and their response to the climate emergency, a world of rewilding, technological singularity, transhumanism, floating cities, geo-engineering. She also answers her emails and post, which in turn introduces her to a different approach to the same topic – the world of survival hacks, doomsteads, doomsday preppers.Lizzie’s marriage falters a little – due to her excessive involvement (at one stage she takes an “enmeshment” test) with the life of her addict brother, which takes a more dramatic turn as he struggles with being a new-father. Her insistence on taking on the burden of her brother, is I think reflected in her views on climate change – taking on the burdens of the human race. “I let my brother choose the movie for once, but then it’s so stupid I can barely watch it. In the movies he likes there is always some great disaster about to happen and only one unlikely person who can stop it.” And climate change, in keeping with the book’s style is addressed elliptically and aphoristically, some examples: First they came for the coral, but I did not say anything because I was not coralIt is important to be on the alert for “the decisive moment,” says the man next to me who is talking to his date. I agree. The only difference is that he is talking about twentieth-century photography and I am talking about twenty-first-century everything.My question for Will is: Does this feel like a country at peace or at war? I’m joking, sort of, but he answers seriously. He says it feels the way it does just before it starts. My question for Will is: Does this feel like a country at peace or at war? I’m joking, sort of, but he answers seriously. He says it feels the way it does just before it starts. It’s a weird thing, but you learn to pick up on it. Even while everybody’s convincing themselves it’s going to be okay Of the anthropological driver of climate change: Sometimes I bring her books to read. She likes mysteries, she told me. Regular-type mysteries. But this last one I gave her was no good, she says. It was all jumbled up. In it, the detective investigated the crime, tracked down every clue, interviewed every possible suspect, only to discover that he himself was the murderer. You don’t say. Of her own attempts to process the emergency: The disaster psychologist explains that in times of emergency the brain can get stuck on a loop, trying to find a similar situation for comparison. Of the difficulty of understanding the time frame over which climate change is emerging: A turtle was mugged by a gang of snails. The police came to take a report, but (the turtle) couldn’t help them. ‘It all happened so fast,’ he said.” It seems almost impossible to review this book – without comparing and contrasting it to Lucy Ellmans’s Goldsmith Prize winning, Booker shortlisted “Ducks, Newburyport”. Both feature an American female wife and mother as a narrator, both focus almost obsessively on environmental issues, on the election of Trump and what the two together say about modern America, both obsessed that this is the worst-of-times (in direct contradiction to almost every possible statistical measure that can be used), both mix the profound with the mundane, both interleave trivia with domesticity and with world events. However whereas Ellmann has a comprehensive, all-inclusive, stream-of-consciousness style, representing the narrator’s though process, with nothing edited or filtered; by contrast Offill’s style is all about the filter and edit – it is a book which has been edited down to almost nothing, where much of the action takes place in the spaces between paragraphs.I am not clear which book I enjoyed the most. This is a much easier and more intellectually stimulating read, but also a more ephemeral and insubstantial one. Why only four stars. My disconnect with this book, as with Ducks, Newburyport ultimately I think comes down to the narrator’s (and I assume author’s) worldview, which in its despair lacks a faith in the future that I feel. In “Weather” in particular this is captured in a dismissal of a profound challenge (which in the appendix is correctly assigned to John Piper) with a curt “Yup”. And that unfortunately is a “Nope” to a fifth star.My thanks to Granta Publications for an ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Lee
    January 1, 1970
    Yeah, good luck trying to find a better one than this, Booker people.'Theres a sign on our elevator saying it is out of order. I stand there looking at it as if it might change. Mrs. Kovinski comes into the lobby. Theyll let anyone be super now, is her theory. Anyone.I get the mail, put off making my slow way up the stairs. The fancy preschool still sends us the newsletter. This one features a list of the top ten fears reported by their students. Darkness doesnt make the cut. Blood, sharks, and Yeah, good luck trying to find a better one than this, Booker people.'There’s a sign on our elevator saying it is out of order. I stand there looking at it as if it might change. Mrs. Kovinski comes into the lobby. They’ll let anyone be super now, is her theory. Anyone.I get the mail, put off making my slow way up the stairs. The fancy preschool still sends us the newsletter. This one features a list of the top ten fears reported by their students. Darkness doesn’t make the cut. Blood, sharks, and loneliness are 8, 9, and 10. When I come in, the dog is sleeping under the table. Eli is folding a piece of plain white paper. “Don’t look,” he says. “I’m inventing this. No one will ever know what I have done except me.” I don’t look. I put out kibble and water, peer openheartedly into the fridge. The window is open. It’s nice out. The pigeons aren’t on the fire escape. There are some pots left over from the tomato experiment. “Whoosh,” my son says. My # 1 fear is the acceleration of days. No such thing supposedly, but I swear I can feel it.'
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  • Jaclyn Crupi
    January 1, 1970
    This book speaks deeply to my personal and specific sense of despair and dread. Its nothing short of remarkable and is complete perfection. And its funny! Best book of 2020 so far and just the best book I have read in ages. I dont even want to tell you anything about it so you go in knowing exactly what I did: new Jenny Offill. How did I get to be so lucky to be alive at the same time as her?! I feel rearranged in the best possible way. This book speaks deeply to my personal and specific sense of despair and dread. It’s nothing short of remarkable and is complete perfection. And it’s funny! Best book of 2020 so far and just the best book I have read in ages. I don’t even want to tell you anything about it so you go in knowing exactly what I did: new Jenny Offill. How did I get to be so lucky to be alive at the same time as her?! I feel rearranged in the best possible way.
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  • Emily B
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the narrator but found some of the other characters hard to keep up with. Specially as who they were and their role/job etc wasnt always explicitly named. Maybe if it was read in one sitting then I wouldnt have had this problem so much. I found it both witty and thought provoking and would recommend you give it a read. Offill turns everyday life into poetry I loved the narrator but found some of the other characters hard to keep up with. Specially as who they were and their role/job etc wasn’t always explicitly named. Maybe if it was read in one sitting then I wouldn’t have had this problem so much. I found it both witty and thought provoking and would recommend you give it a read. Offill turns everyday life into poetry
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  • Perry
    January 1, 1970
    1 4 3, Canadian hunkA war-time romance, without the war, without the sex.... with the bookish hunk Quebecois, whilst taking care of the neurotic drug-addicted brother, and attending to her precursive decrepitude, mostly after husband took their young son out of town to get away from this near-negative Nelly.I expected this would be more like the first three (Autumn, Winter and Spring) of Ali Smiths brilliant seasonal quartet. Ill say this: it kept me reading for 224 pages of an inner monologue, 1 4 3, Canadian hunk“A war-time romance, without the war, without the sex....” with the bookish hunk Quebecois, whilst taking care of the neurotic drug-addicted brother, and attending to her precursive decrepitude, mostly after husband took their young son out of town to get away from this near-negative Nelly.I expected this would be more like the first three (Autumn, Winter and Spring) of Ali Smith’s brilliant seasonal quartet. I’ll say this: it kept me reading for 224 pages of an inner monologue, which were, several times, intellectually stimulating and provocative in the current climate (in that term’s multiple meanings). And, perhaps WEATHER gave me, a middle age male wasp, an inside view of the emotional romantic adventures of middle age females.Don’t shoot me. But, do please, if you are of a mind, explain how an emotional romance cannot be as damaging to a marriage, simply because no sexual intercourse has yet occurred. 3.14 for 1 4 3.
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  • Rebecca McNutt
    January 1, 1970
    Weather is an interesting concept, but it just wasn't for me, both because I'm completely apathetic towards climate change and had trouble relating to the main character's concerns, and also because I found the writing to be overdramatic and almost hokey. This "literary" (I beg to differ) novel is certainly very timely, dealing with a number of modern issues and fears amidst an intriguing backdrop, but I didn't find the writing or character development to be all that good.The book follows the Weather is an interesting concept, but it just wasn't for me, both because I'm completely apathetic towards climate change and had trouble relating to the main character's concerns, and also because I found the writing to be overdramatic and almost hokey. This "literary" (I beg to differ) novel is certainly very timely, dealing with a number of modern issues and fears amidst an intriguing backdrop, but I didn't find the writing or character development to be all that good.The book follows the story of Lizzie Benson, whose seemingly normal library job becomes something else entirely when she finds herself answering questions online via Podcast for a range of people with differing political views on climate change and the economy. Lizzie is a woman on the edge. Her career isn't the only cause of this; her home life with her family provides just as stressful an environment, as she faces the dysfunction caused by an addicted brother, a rocky marriage and a son whom she doesn't have a lot of time for. There are a few interesting snippets in this book, but I honestly just couldn't relate to it at all. I think, first of all, that it will quickly become very dated. Setting aside whether or not climate change will truly be the big doomsday or social issue called for even just five years from now, the Podcast thing especially seems like a plot device which will become very dated sooner than later. Best case scenario, Weather will become an out-of-date period piece. The writing often felt clumsy and awkward, the plot itself seemed implausible on so many levels, and I had no connection with any of the characters. Lizzie is so busy and fearful that I couldn't imagine her as anything else, or how/why she would have it get so bad. The political discourse was dull, whiny and annoying, and the dysfunctional family subplot I found much more gripping and important, but I felt that something deeper seemed to be missing from it.I personally just didn't like or understand Weather. I could see it maybe appealing to readers who are into burning sociopolitical issues or who like depressing narratives, but to me it was just a mildly entertaining yet completely forgettable psychological drama.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    Could there be a more perfect book for 2020? A blunt, unromanticized but wickedly funny novel about how eco-anxiety permeates everyday life*, Weather is written in the same aphoristic style as Offills Dept. of Speculation, which I read in November 2015, but has a more substantial story to tell. Lizzie is married with a young son and works in a New York City university library. She takes on an informal second job as PA to Sylvia**, her former professor, who runs a podcast on environmental issues Could there be a more perfect book for 2020? A blunt, unromanticized but wickedly funny novel about how eco-anxiety permeates everyday life*, Weather is written in the same aphoristic style as Offill’s Dept. of Speculation, which I read in November 2015, but has a more substantial story to tell. Lizzie is married with a young son and works in a New York City university library. She takes on an informal second job as PA to Sylvia**, her former professor, who runs a podcast on environmental issues and travels to speaking engagements. Set either side of Trump’s election, the novel amplifies many voices prophesying doom, from environmentalists to Bible-thumpers (like Lizzie’s mother) to those who aren’t sure they’ll even make it past tomorrow (like her brother, a highly unstable ex-addict who’s having a baby with his girlfriend). It’s a wonder it doesn’t end up feeling depressing. Offill’s observations are spot on, and Lizzie’s sardonic narration is an ideal way of capturing relatable feelings of anger and helplessness, cringing fear and desperate hope. Don’t expect to come away with your worries soothed, though there is some comfort to be found in the feeling that we’re all in this together.*Western, white, left-leaning middle-class life, anyway.**It’s so telling that Sylvia ultimately gives up, deciding it’s too late to win hearts and minds, and retreats to the desert. When Lizzie asks her where her son could be safe in 30 years, Sylvia says location won’t make a difference; the only thing that will make a difference is money, lots of it. The wealthy will be spared the worst of the crisis.Favorite lines:“My #1 fear is the acceleration of days.”“Young person worry: What if nothing I do matters? Old person worry: What if everything I do does?”“Once sadness was considered one of the deadly sins, but this was later changed to sloth. (Two strikes then.)”“My husband is reading the Stoics before breakfast. That can’t be good, can it?”
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  • Anna Luce
    January 1, 1970
    The cover of this novel is beautiful...the actual contents...not so much.I don't mind novels in verse or written in an impressionist style. Sadly, there is little beauty or innovation in the way in which Weather is written. To me, there is nothing poetic about its disjointed and fragmented prose (so much so that to call it prose seems a stretch). Here are three extracts which other readers may appreciate, but I certainly didn't:We were at the supermarket. All around us things tried to announce The cover of this novel is beautiful...the actual contents...not so much.I don't mind novels in verse or written in an impressionist style. Sadly, there is little beauty or innovation in the way in which Weather is written. To me, there is nothing poetic about its disjointed and fragmented prose (so much so that to call it prose seems a stretch). Here are three extracts which other readers may appreciate, but I certainly didn't:“We were at the supermarket. All around us things tried to announce their true nature. But their radiance was faint and fainter still beneath the terrible music.”“The window in our bedroom is open. You can see the moon if you lean out and crane your neck. The Greeks thought it was the only heavenly object similar to Earth. Plants and animals fifteen times stronger than our own inhabited it.”“There is a heroic tower of folded things on the table. I spot my favorite shirt, my least depressing underwear. I go into the bedroom and change into them. Now I am a brand-new person.”Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads
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  • Matthew
    January 1, 1970
    My therapist once called me tangential. It was not by any means a slight, nor was it anywhere close to being inaccurate. I admittedly think and speak erratically; its a direct reflection of how my brain works. Id like to think its because I am overcome with short, sporadic fits of brilliance, but its more likely because Im so fearful of being distracted that in turn I become distracted in my attempts to avoid it. These days were practically obligated to cast blame for our insufficiencies social My therapist once called me “tangential”. It was not by any means a slight, nor was it anywhere close to being inaccurate. I admittedly think and speak erratically; it’s a direct reflection of how my brain works. I’d like to think it’s because I am overcome with short, sporadic fits of brilliance, but it’s more likely because I’m so fearful of being distracted that in turn I become distracted in my attempts to avoid it. These days we’re practically obligated to cast blame for our insufficiencies – social media! millennials! white dudes! one-percenters! Trump! Trump! Trump! – but I refuse. If anything, I take pride in my tangential nature, the nausea from which my cerebral cortex appears to suffer. Although I’d argue it’s hardly suffering; most times, it’s thriving. But, then there are those occasions in which it backfires, when my erraticism gets the best of me, overtakes my rationality to develop hypothetical scenarios that are just as maddening as they are theoretical. It’s part of the reason why I go to therapy in the first place. Several of you will know what I’m talking about (or so I hope). Or perhaps you’re too scatterbrained yourself to pay attention, let alone give a shit. Either way, it’s all good; I ain’t mad at ya. It’s Valentine’s Day, for fuck’s sake! I’ve got nothing but love for you. That said, I know I am not alone. Many of us choose to live in the hypothetical; better still, we’ve become conditioned for it. We expect unpredictability. “But what if?” many of us ask, hardly expecting an answer. I imagine Jenny Offill isn’t hardly expecting an answer either. Her third novel, Weather, is a nod to the unpredictability – and subsequent anxiety – of our times, and the tangential approach many of us take to weather our own storms, impending or otherwise. What’s more, it’s a whip-smart distillation on how many of us struggle to live in the “here and now” because we’re too worried about the “what’s to come”, the “what if’s”. Simply put, we’re occupied by preoccupation.Offill’s protagonist (heroine?), Lizzie, is a NYC-based college librarian balancing the minutia of her everyday life with the forecast of an impending apocalypse. She is a representation of you and I and everyone else in the sense that she resides within multiple experiences concurrently, experiences that range from the very small (school drop-offs; daily interactions with neighbors) to the, well, not-so-small (disaster preparedness vis-à-vis the global climate crisis). She goes about her days tangentially, from one moment to the next, fragmented pieces meant to ultimately create a whole yet still resulting with many a crack in her foundation. Suffice to say, Lizzie is a product of her environment. Her relationship with her drug-addled brother, Henry, is “enmeshed”; Lizzie is so devoted to Henry she dropped out of her own graduate program in order to help him through his struggles. As a form of self-care, she habitually attends yoga courses taught by a militant instructor (Monica) who's quick to critique. Her marriage – to Ben, a video game developer with a PhD in Classics and proclivity for reading Greek philosophy at the break of dawn – is in that comfortable phase of cohabitation that’s often synonymous with long-term relationships. Alongside her daily grind, Lizzie takes on a side hustle answering letters in response to a climate change podcast helmed by her former mentor, Sylvia. The variety of questions she answers characterize a country divided by politics, yet united in fear. Lizzie isn’t by any means immune to their fear; she and Ben begin their own doomsday preparation as a result. Offill sprinkles “prepper” tips throughout the narrative, adding both a levity and hilarity to the anxiety she’s captured. In fact, part of Weather’s genius is Offill’s innate ability to inject hilarity – mind you, a highly sardonic one – into what’s projected to be anything but. This is only perpetuated when Henry becomes a father, Sylvia goes into reclusion, Ben – along with their son, Eli – decides to visit his sister without Lizzie (despite offering her to join), and Lizzie begins a flirtatious relationship with a journalist that Offill describes being "like a wartime romance. Minus the war. Minus the sex."All this aside, it’s the novel's structure – a diary-esque, fragmented style akin to Offill’s previous work, the brilliant Dept. of Speculation – that allows Weather to truly soar. Critics may find it too choppy, too tangential, too disjointed; and yet I couldn’t imagine Weather to be written any other way. It’s very much a novel for and of our times, a zeitgeist of the here and now – despite most of us worrying instead about what’s to come.
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  • Bruce Katz
    January 1, 1970
    I have no idea what rating to give this book. I have no idea, in fact, of what it was I read. The book dispenses with the conventions of story-telling (apart from having a single, first-person narrator). There is no "story" to speak of, though I suppose an attentive reader -- particularly one with training as a clinical psychologist -- could tease a story out. Or create one. Thinking on it last night, I began to think of the book not in terms of narrative but more as similar to the kind of I have no idea what rating to give this book. I have no idea, in fact, of what it was I read. The book dispenses with the conventions of story-telling (apart from having a single, first-person narrator). There is no "story" to speak of, though I suppose an attentive reader -- particularly one with training as a clinical psychologist -- could tease a story out. Or create one. Thinking on it last night, I began to think of the book not in terms of narrative but more as similar to the kind of mental process that takes place as we look back on our day: this happened, then this, then this.Some reviewers have used the word "snippets" to describe how "Weather" is written. The word's as good as any other, I suppose. Episodic, maybe? Impressionistic -- definitely. A very brief book filled with brief vignettes described as they unfold, as seen/felt/perceived by the narrator: an intelligent, good-hearted, somewhat lost woman who is in some measure the voice (a voice) of America (as lived in the New York metro area) in the days immediately before and after the election of Donald Trump. She finds herself acting as therapist to people she meets, to her brother Henry who has substance abuse issues. (She describes their relationship as "close." Her friend says a better word would be "enmeshed.") Finds herself evading certain people around her and realizing to her surprise that some are evading her. Through her we see what our times are, where our culture is and is moving, the disorientation we are feeling.She doesn't miss much, our narrator. She sees through hypocrisy, pretense. Her name is Nicola and her son's name, inexplicably, is Kasper. She had this way that she would talk about our zoned elementary school, in one breath praising the immigrant kids who went there and in the next talking about the tutors she'd hired to get her son out of it.As she sees through her own self-delusions: I buy a telescope because I want to see. I buy running shoes because I want to run. This block smells like garbage. Turn left for greener streets. Yes, better. I try to run all the way to the park, but these shoes don't work. And the narcissistic world view of others: I'm trapped next to this young techno-optimist guy. He explains that current technology will no longer seem strange when the generation who didn't grow up with it finally ages out of the conversation. Dies, I think he means. His point is that eventually all those who are unnerved by what is falling away will be gone, and after that, there won't be any mort talk of what has been lost, only of what has been gained. But wait, that sounds bad to me. Doesn't that mean if we end up somewhere we don't want to be, we can't retrace our steps?So much is captured in a short scene, time and space folding in on themselves: 'Should we get a gun?' Ben [her husband] asks. But it's America. You don't even get on the news if you shoot less than three people. I mean, isn't that the last right they'll take away? He looks at me. His grandfather's name was twice as long as his. They shortened it at Ellis Island... It was the same after 9/11, there was that hum in the air. Everyone everywhere talking about the same thing. In stores, in restaurants, on the subway. My friend met me at the diner for coffee. His family fled Iran one week before the Shah fell. He didn't want to talk about the hum. I pressed him though. Your people have finally fallen into history, he said. The rest of us are already here. Look: This impossible-to-describe book is one that some readers will really enjoy (me, I loved the narrative voice, the quiet way in which Offill reveals us to ourselves ) or at which others will shake their heads in utter befuddlement.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 rounded upTold in a series of short snippets, Weather follows Lizzie Benson, a librarian and ordinary woman who is navigating the post-Trump, post-truth landscape of life in contemporary America. Lizzie cares for her troubled recovering addict brother, her old beyond his years son and spent time looking after her dying mother. Through her conversations with them, and others - her former mentor Sylvia and patrons of the library in which she works - Offill weaves a tale which perfectly 4.5 rounded upTold in a series of short snippets, Weather follows Lizzie Benson, a librarian and ordinary woman who is navigating the post-Trump, post-truth landscape of life in contemporary America. Lizzie cares for her troubled recovering addict brother, her old beyond his years son and spent time looking after her dying mother. Through her conversations with them, and others - her former mentor Sylvia and patrons of the library in which she works - Offill weaves a tale which perfectly encapsulates the zeitgeist of late 2010s life. But this is all delicately balanced and Offill provides enough levity to prevent it all from getting too heavy and anxiety-inducing. While they're totally different books the skill demonstrated here in perfectly evoking this weird time we're living through reminded me at times of what Ali Smith has done in her Seasons quartet. It's that wonderful kind of writing which demonstrates a lot of skill, often through restraint, but never feels forced.Thank you Netgalley and Granta Publications for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Neil
    January 1, 1970
    At the end of Jenny Offills new book, Weather (the first of her novels that I have read), there is a link to a website (www.obligatorynoteofhope.com). In an interview with Esquire magazine, Offill saysI launched the Obligatory Note of Hope website. Much of it came from thinking about the novel and how to write the novel, and then when I was finished, there were all these resources I had come across. When I tried to fit them in the novel, they capsized the book. The website has tips for trying At the end of Jenny Offill’s new book, Weather (the first of her novels that I have read), there is a link to a website (www.obligatorynoteofhope.com). In an interview with Esquire magazine, Offill says”I launched the Obligatory Note of Hope website. Much of it came from thinking about the novel and how to write the novel, and then when I was finished, there were all these resources I had come across. When I tried to fit them in the novel, they capsized the book. The website has tips for trying times about how people have survived different dark periods in history. It’s everything from wartime recipes to what people read during different periods of disaster to social science about what it means to collectively join with others.”In Weather, university librarian Lizzie takes on a side job answering questions sent in to her erstwhile mentor, Sylvia, who has a podcast that generates queries about the end of the world which could come about either by the Rapture or by climate change. At the same time, she is attempting to support her brother through his drug issues and becoming a new father and navigating a potential crisis in her own marriage. It’s a heady mix that leads to a lot of interesting observations and plenty of comedy moments: on comedy Offill says (interview with The Observer):”I feel like it is one of the things that keeps people afloat during tough times and you see it in communities that have been traditionally marginalised - that there is a strong way of talking about absurdity”For me, some of the jokes fell a bit flat, but that is a minor quibble and probably more related to my poor sense of humour than anything else. Lizzie’s new job answering emails for Sylvia gradually begins to take over and her worries about climate change and “prepping” come to the fore. This is where the power of the book lies.The book is full of white space and this is where the action takes place. What we read is fragments that jump from story thread to story thread, that include snippets of information or jokes, that build the picture. For the first few pages, I felt that I was back in the world of 2019’s “Ducks, Newburyport” by Lucy Ellmann, but it quickly becomes clear that this is something different where thoughts are filtered and the narrative is carefully structured (as opposed to the unfiltered narrative in Ellmann’s work, although that is also carefully put together) to lead the reader through but with the expectation that the reader will “fill in the blanks” and put the pieces together.The website link at the end of the book is appropriate and helpful. The novel itself presents us with the issue of “climate dread” and shows us some notes of hope, so jumping into the “real world” at the end to see practical ways organisations and individuals are responding takes the reader a step further on the journey.Author interviews:https://observer.com/2020/02/jenny-of...https://www.esquire.com/entertainment...My thanks to the publisher, Granta Publications, for an ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Maddie
    January 1, 1970
    Hows the Weather? Everything is bad, so bad. Forlorn.And theres no hope to be found in Weather, Jenny Offills new book after the explosive Dept. of Speculation, a book that, according to critics, was the precursor of the autofiction genre, where fact and fiction blur and its impossible to tell which is which; I specifically enjoy this idea, the guessing game that goes on in my mind as I think 'where does it end? where is the beginning?'Weather, however, feels painfully real, the one-word title How’s the Weather? Everything is bad, so bad. Forlorn.And there’s no hope to be found in Weather, Jenny Offill’s new book after the explosive Dept. of Speculation, a book that, according to critics, was the precursor of the autofiction genre, where fact and fiction blur and it’s impossible to tell which is which; I specifically enjoy this idea, the guessing game that goes on in my mind as I think 'where does it end? where is the beginning?'Weather, however, feels painfully real, the one-word title at first containing the possibility of a sunny day, until you start reading and are reminded just how bad things are, clouds appearing at the edge of your vision until you’re in the middle of a disaster. The forecast of politics, the weather of the Earth, there’s no way you can find solace about one in the other; because everything’s gone to shit. There’s something almost poetic about how the current political weather mirrors almost perfectly the way climate change is changing our lives: nobody thought Donald Trump was going to be elected, everyone is hoping he won’t be reelected, but there’s something essentially suicidal about the human condition. We can’t deal with peace for too long, find new ways to self-destruct; history be damned, no memories held. Offill illustrates that idea perfectly, the tension of climate change and social intolerance rising, building, the terror of (for) the future while also dealing with everyday dread: giving up dreams over practicality, the intricacies of marriage life, the monotony of routine, the making of a family, the battling of personal demons. It’s a beautifully shattered story, looming with smaller and bigger intensities.However, while there’s not exactly a message of hope in the book, the tone with which our narrator, Lizzie Benson, deals with the impending doom of the end of the world is refreshing, a sardonic and quick-wit that make reading about her thoughts not a completely depressive act. You even come away with some (useful?) (fun?) facts to help you build your own doomstead (how to use a can of oil-packed tuna to generate two hours of light if you don't have candles -- and the tuna is still good to eat afterwards!).
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  • Faith
    January 1, 1970
    Seriously overhyped and underwhelming. At least it was short.
  • Peter Boyle
    January 1, 1970
    Weather is Jenny Offill's follow-up to the much-adored Dept. of Speculation. Like that book, it takes the form of a woman's inner monologue, told in short, sharp paragraphs. The woman in question is Lizzie, a university librarian who has a lot on her plate. Her brother is recovering from addiction and has a new girlfriend, but he relies heavily on Lizzie for support. Her knee hurts, and she's not exactly sure what to do about it. Her mentor Sylvia, who now hosts a podcast on futurism, is Weather is Jenny Offill's follow-up to the much-adored Dept. of Speculation. Like that book, it takes the form of a woman's inner monologue, told in short, sharp paragraphs. The woman in question is Lizzie, a university librarian who has a lot on her plate. Her brother is recovering from addiction and has a new girlfriend, but he relies heavily on Lizzie for support. Her knee hurts, and she's not exactly sure what to do about it. Her mentor Sylvia, who now hosts a podcast on futurism, is becoming completely disillusioned with her purpose, and this negativity is seeping into Lizzie's brain. She also worries for the wellbeing of her husband and young son in this age of dodgy politics and impending climate catastrophe.It's a novel about modern anxieties: the mundane trials that we go through every day, and the overarching global concerns that affect the whole lot of us. It's also a convincing portrait of the way in which a mind can be flooded with thoughts of doom. However, Lizzie is quite a witty and wise narrator with a good handle on things, you never get the sense that her troubles will totally capsize her. I did feel that this book was not quite as profound or as groundbreaking as Jenny Offill's previous effort. But it's still an intelligent, perceptive story, told with great elegance and economy.Favourite Quotes:"In the first class I ever took with Sylvia, she told us about assortative mating. Meaning like with like—depressive with depressive. The problem with assortative mating, she said, is that it feels perfectly correct when you do it. Like a key fitting into a lock and opening a door. The question being: Is this really the room you want to spend your life in?""This morning Margot talked about the difference between falling and floating. With practice, she says, one may learn to accept the feeling of groundlessness without existential fear. This is akin to the way an experienced parachutist or astronaut might enjoy the wide view from above even as he hurtles through space.""But still, everyone I know is trying to sleep less. Insomnia as a badge of honor. Proof that you are paying attention.""Ben is used to my all talk, no action ways, but it took a long time to bank all that goodwill. The thought of having to be with someone else long enough to deserve it again. That’s what feels impossible. Because the part where they are charmed by you, where you are every good thing, and then the part later—sooner, maybe, but always later—where they tire of you, of all your repetitions, of all your little and big shames, I don’t think I could bear that."
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  • Varsha Ravi (between.bookends)
    January 1, 1970
    2.5/5If I were to plot my reading experience of this novel, it would probably be a perfect sinusoid that doesnt quite peak but plateaus in the middle only to dip again in the end. Weather is a loosely plotted, mostly observational novel capturing the current climate (literally and figuratively) of the now, while offering anecdotal insights on where we, as humanity, are heading. The sentences are short, clipped and really quite sparse. A technique that works phenomenally well for dry comic 2.5/5If I were to plot my reading experience of this novel, it would probably be a perfect sinusoid that doesn’t quite peak but plateaus in the middle only to dip again in the end. Weather is a loosely plotted, mostly observational novel capturing the current climate (literally and figuratively) of the now, while offering anecdotal insights on where we, as humanity, are heading. The sentences are short, clipped and really quite sparse. A technique that works phenomenally well for dry comic timing, but otherwise reads quite detached.The novel primarily follows Lizzie, a university librarian, her daily interactions, her equation with an attractive stranger, her relationship with her addict brother, while also working part-time for Sylvia, a climate change activist and host of a podcast. While these plot lines exist, they never quite come to fruition and neither are these storylines the real point of the novel. It rather concerns itself with the eventualities that are likely to occur. It’s interesting initially, but after a while, it just got gratingly navel-gazing while not seeming to head anywhere. I closed the book questioning what the point of all this really was.The saving grace is it’s a quick read with some truly chuckle-worthy moments dotted through…“A turtle was mugged by a gang of snails. The police came to take a report, but (the turtle) couldn’t help them. ‘It all happened so fast,’ he said.”
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  • SueLucie
    January 1, 1970
    This is a sort of state of the nation address from one woman in New York going about her daily life, her thoughts and reflections mirroring the preoccupations of those around her. Civilisations decline and climate emergency are two of the main themes, highlighted by a new and very different president and political style. Her musings on these are interspersed with worries about her family, her marriage, her child, and observations of her customers at the library where she works, people she meets This is a sort of ‘state of the nation’ address from one woman in New York going about her daily life, her thoughts and reflections mirroring the preoccupations of those around her. Civilisation’s decline and climate emergency are two of the main themes, highlighted by a new and very different president and political style. Her musings on these are interspersed with worries about her family, her marriage, her child, and observations of her customers at the library where she works, people she meets in the course of her day and those who write in to her friend’s online show. A highly effective structure involving short, sharp anecdotes, reminiscences, old jokes that spring to mind, the kind of mental shorthand acquired over a long marriage - all these appealed to me and felt as close as could be to the way my own mind works in the course of an average day. No real action here, this is a novel of observations and a distillation of people’s feelings about the world today. A joy to read, highly recommended. I haven’t read the author’s earlier novel, Dept. of Speculation, and am now keen to read that and all her back catalogue as soon as possible.With thanks to Granta Publications via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very specific kind of navel-gazy book that works really well for me but might prove frustrating or even kind of empty for other readers. This is the kind of novel Sarah Manguso would write and I loved it.The blurb makes this sound like a plot heavy book but it is very much the opposite. Offill has edited her book down to sparse scenes, short musings, and witty sentences. Much of the action happens off-page and only the ramifications are felt. I thought the easily readable prose This is a very specific kind of navel-gazy book that works really well for me but might prove frustrating or even kind of empty for other readers. This is the kind of novel Sarah Manguso would write and I loved it.The blurb makes this sound like a plot heavy book but it is very much the opposite. Offill has edited her book down to sparse scenes, short musings, and witty sentences. Much of the action happens off-page and only the ramifications are felt. I thought the easily readable prose actually hides how very thought-provoking this book is, and the brief scenes hide the emotional leg work she does with them. I found the sibling relationship at the heart of the novel impeccably drawn and highly emotional. People have talked about the anxiety-inducing spiral with regards to climate change the narrator is involved in, but I actually found the commentary on post partum depression a lot more difficult to read, for obvious reasons I guess. I thought the narrator’s voice imparted so much warmth towards her brother that I felt her helplessness in this situation acutely.Content warning: Climate change, (emotional) cheating, post partum depressionYou can find this review and other thoughts on books on my blog.
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