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I adored Dept. Of Speculation so was looking forward to Weather and was not disappointed. Concise, dryly funny, upsetting and thought-provoking, this is a perfect novel for our times. I folded down so many page corners to re-visit later.
This book had a bit too many rambling thoughts that lead nowhere. I think the topics raised and the sentiment of the book were great and so current but I just couldn’t engage and didn’t care about the characters.
Talvez nada seja mais contemporâneo do que um romance sobre um apocalipse iminente, como Weather, da americana Jenny Offil. O livro, como o anterior dela, o ótimo Dept. Of Speculation, é constituída de fragmentos, quase aforismos, que tentam dar conta de um momento de caos – lá, o fim de um casamento, aqui, o fim de um mundo, ou um modo de vida. Não há muito de uma narrativa ou aquilo que se convencionou chamar de personagens, mas um acúmulo de situações e pessoas que, no conjunto, constituem um panorama de algo maior. Uma série de colagem de citações – algumas explícitas, outras, não – dão conta do caos de um mundo em ebulição, de um momento cultural antropofágico no qual os referenciais estão evaporando – assim como tudo aquilo que se toma (ou tomava-se) como certo.
This is a clifi book with a difference: there are jokes. It’s written in very short quirky grabs for the most part, so you have to work to figure out what the narrator (Lizzy, librarian, wife and mother) is talking about about, but you soon get the hang of it. The thoughts that roam through Lizzy’s humorous mind are to do with climate change, extinction, the shock of the Trump win, family life, her recovering drug addict brother to whom she’s very attached, her generous Christian mother on a tiny income, America’s disastrous health care system, meditation, zazen, etc. She meets a war correspondent and asks him for his take on present day America. He says it has the feel of a country that will soon be at war - with itself, he seems to mean - and current indications are that this is not outside the realm of possibility. There are some winsomely humorous ideas for surviving after a catastrophe. You can make a 2 hour candle out of a can of tuna packed in oil and eat the tuna after, for example. The whole thing seems like a random collection of fleeting thoughts but of course it isn’t. Its a clever portrayal of the current zeitgeist that’s all the more effective because of the humour. Did enjoy the jokes, especially the one about the Americans, Syrians and Russians sent into a forest to find a rabbit. Doesn’t take long to read, either.
It’s written the way that life unfolds. A million fleeting thoughts a day, sparked by tiny noticings, but then explored with the intent of contributing to a broader understanding, or a wisdom, or to understand the “core delusion” as she puts it and tries to answer in her last line.
I was captivated by this book. I didn’t exactly look forward to picking it up each time but when I did I couldn’t put it down. Her dread resonated with me, and because it seemed to start with Trump’s Election Day, it resonated more because the dread I have started there too.
Questions about survival and meaning occur to me the way they occur to the narrator also, as does the difficulty but necessity of classifying them as emergency or delusion. As a librarian classifies, which she is.
Love is also explored transiently but deeply. Her love for her brother seems at times deeper than her love for her husband but also and equally vice versa. And her cerebral soulmate “affair” casts both in a different light.
Some of her random wisdom from emails or from her psychologist or from Sylvia her boss were profound and their randomness and brevity made them more valuable.
She is a confident and individual writer and her style is solid, bullet-proof, and poetic in a way that takes no prisoners, and she herself is no prisoner. But it’s not defiant because she has nothing to defy.
I admire a writer who breaks the mould and charts her own expressive territory and consequently I experienced an interesting sense of vague disillusion wrapped in vague confusion wrapped in vague insecurity wrapped in vague discontent. And that it is truthful, and that it wouldn’t have been as truthful written any other way.
Just a friendly reminder that authors are people! They have feelings, and Kindles! And making art, making anything, is hard and putting it out into the world is generous and brave, especially when you have created a new genre and you are telling an uncomfortable truth. We readers don't have to like it. We also don't have to read it! And if we do, we can write reviews that aren't pointlessly savage and cruel, before getting back to whatever it is we are making and presumably like an author, pouring all our time and creativity and love into, hoping that people will appreciate it if we ever dared to show it to them or at least respect our effort. Yet another thing that is great about being human!
It's like poetry. You may or may not know what she means by what she says. And like poetry a few nice lines stay in your head. I can't recommend it to any of my friends. It's not a novel. It's meandering thoughts on her life.