Jenny Offill’s previous novel Dept. of Speculation was deservedly popular, and I believe Weather is just as good. They’re both deceptively short and breezy books which manage to very cleverly lay out their protagonist’s state of mind and place in the world in short paragraphs and asides which form a compelling and cohesive narrative.
Weather describes the day to day of Lizzie Benson, a librarian (who snuck into her job without a degree, much to her qualified colleagues’ chagrin) while she navigates life in New York with her family. Her bemused, slightly neurotic viewpoint is what makes the book so easy to read – almost in one sitting, in my case – but underneath the smooth hide, sinewy plotlines flex. Trump comes to power, and Lizzie begins to help an old friend who runs a popular climate science podcast by answering her fanmail and listener questions. She starts to become interested in Preppers and doomsday fanatics and gradually, real fearfulness starts to tint her days. She also copes with an unstable brother, parenthood as a competitive sport, and ambivalent feelings about love and desire.
I loved how skillful the writing is, and how you can tell its good by how effortless Offill makes her writing look. A mercurial, prescient and very enjoyable book.