Lizzie 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 ...more
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: the state of the atmosphere at a particular place and time
weather 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 its 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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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” ...more
'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, ...more
I found it both witty and thought provoking and would recommend you give it a read.
Offill turns everyday life into poetry
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, ...more
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...more
“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 ...more
Told 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 ...more
These days we’re practically obligated to cast blame for our insufficiencies ...more
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 ...more
”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 ...more
Jenny Offill’s third novel, Weather, is a relatively small book with a large impact. It tells the story of Lizzie who is a wife and mother, a caretaker for her brother who has struggled with addiction, and a librarian by luck, not by training. She spends her days observing patrons of the library and analysing their lives, while juggling her own life issues at the same time. When a former mentor approaches Lizzie to take on a side job ...more
If 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 ...more
Moreover, her new novel must surely be one of the best at capturing the current American zeitgeist. Her fragmented narration seems to chronicle a nation on the brink, self-doubt and personal drama interspersed with existantial questions and tips for surviving the climate crisis and its effects. The tone oscillates between black comedy ...more
Depressing, because [gestures at the world] but funny enough that you won’t mind.
This book in particular I think is not just an enchanting read but very clever. There's no big finish, no ramping up to dramatic conclusions; but that's not why you read a book like this. It hooks you with the writing, not the ...more
How come Coke cans all have names on them now? Sarah, Keesha, Madison etc. It’s really hard not to look for your name. Or to buy one if you see it.
I know this style of writing appeals to some, but for me it feels uninspired. ...more
I enjoyed Dept of Speculation a lot. The narrative style here is very similar, the characters are very similar, its processes are very similar, yet it doesn't improve upon the form in any way. The personal *can* be universal, but this book assumes that is the case. It also assumes far too much about its reader and their knowledge, political leanings, and opinions to be universal. It assumes that the reader must also be a comfortable, ...more
She is also the co-editor with Elissa Schappell of two anthologies of essays and the author of several children's books She teaches in the MFA programs at Brooklyn College, Columbia University and Queens ...more