To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
Weather by Jenny Offill is a demanding book. It holds you right from page one and doesn’t let go (at least it did that to me). It can also go the other way and make the reader wonder what they are reading and perhaps make them stop reading as well. Weather isn’t an easy read. If you are reading Offill for the first time, I suggest you start with Dept. of Speculation and then move on to Weather, as it will give you an idea of perhaps what to expect.
Weather is a novel that is everything and more – it literally as the title suggests, speak of the weather – the situation of climate change that we are in which isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It is about a marriage that seems to be in control and yet felt to me that it was tearing at the seams.
It is also about the protagonist, Lizzie Benson’s sort of stream-of-consciousness that comes from her brother’s mental and physical health, her mentor’s closing off to the world, and to what extent she will go to test her endurance when it comes to empathy and the state of the world.
This is not a book that can be read in one go. You have to savor it and give it some time. It is fragmented and will take some time to get into. Maybe nothing extraordinary ever happens in the book as well (quite subjective). It reminds us of times – of impending doom that hangs over all of us – and yet more often than not we choose to ignore it. It is bleak and has moments of joy. The writing as I have mentioned isn’t easy, but it shouldn’t deter you from reading Offill. She is simply the best.
The best book I’ve read this year so far. Offill writes so beautifully, and her acutely perfect observations had me highlighting sentence after sentence. It’s personal and political and poetic and pageturningly good.
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.
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.
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!
Lizzie is a university librarian, married with a young son and a depressed brother. Weather unfolds over a period of a few years, and though it's a quick read, it's full of pithy and poignant observations as Lizzie contemplates topical traumas and philosophizes on aging, climate change, false optimism, and, of course, marriage.
Nothing extraordinary happens in Weather. Even Dept of Speculation had more of a plot. It's the literary equivalent of a painting in a modern art gallery, the one with a plain canvas and a two brushstrokes that sold for $1 million. Simple and understated, yet somehow perfect. Lizzie jumps from topic to topic, and in so doing, elevates the mundane to the memorable, the pedestrian to gut-wrenching. "Are you sure you're my mother?" asks her son early on. "Sometimes you don't seem like a good enough person."
Everyone in Weather is trying to cling to life and a semblance of normality, even more so after the 2016 elections that occur midway during the book. "Should we get a gun?" Lizzie's husband asks. "But it's America. You don't even get on the news if you shoot less than three people." Thinks Lizzie, in response: "His grandfather's name was twice as long as his. They shortened it at Ellis Island." (If that seems like a non sequitur, you may not enjoy Weather.) At another juncture, Lizzie's brother confronts an automobile driver who almost hit them as they walked. "She won't look at him. 'You and your precious lives,' she says."
Whiffs of impending peril permeate Weather. In times of disaster, Lizzie reminds us a few times, the brain freezes. Everyone needs a plan of escape, whether a doomstead in New Zealand or a house high on a hill or a motivating mantra. Those who ignore the signs will not survive. It's not exactly uplifting, which is probably why the last page includes a link to a what-can-we-do-about-all-this? site called Obligatory Note of Hope.
Short but potent. I'll read it again, maybe tomorrow.
This is a gem of a book! Superbly well written, insightful and, at times, very funny this is a novel that addresses many of the anxieties of our present time. The fragmented structure of the writing will be off-putting to many readers. If you're someone who doesn't like anything but straight prose, then you'll probably want to pass on this book. It's almost a written version of a well-crafted stand-up comedy routine. Each passage has a finely honed edge and gets a emotional response from you. Sometimes you share in the protagonist Lizzie's sense of frustration and dread and then your smiling at her plucky sense of humor in the very next paragraph.
We are so many different things to so many different people in our lives. With so many obligations and expectations asked of us on a daily basis it's easy to lose ones own identity. Lizzie struggles to maintain the balance of her immediate family ( husband and son) with her extended family (a brother who is a recovering drug addict and father to a infant daughter). Not to mention trying to balance her job with (a librarian) with trying to assist a former mentor with getting out the important and critical message about climate change. Her mentor's podcast is called 'The Center Cannot Hold' which is a fine nod to Yeats, an apt warning of the consequences of our current treatment of Planet Earth and, your fear, a somber prediction for the future Lizzie's personal life.
But then again, it's not as dire as all that. Lizzie continues being Lizzie and getting through life the best that she can. Most importantly she maintains her sense of humor. As a coping device she researches about how to become a 'prepper' with a whole slew of trivia tidbits dredged up on Google; create a 2 hour candle from a can of tuna - oil packed, not water packed, create fire from a foil chewing gum wrapper and a nine volt battery, catch fish with a wad a chewed gum and a paperclip hook, etc... No factoid is too esoteric or random for her not to squirrel away for later use. Then reality sets in:
'... one day I have to run to catch a bus. I am so out of breath when I get there that I know in a flash all my preparations for the apocalypse are doomed. I will die early and ignobly.'
Funny, tragic and relatable. But that's life, isn't it? As a famous poet wrote: 'All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one (wo)man in his(her) time plays many parts...' Lizzie is one of us. She keeps plugging away and so must we all. This is a very good book and an easy read. I highly recommend it!
This is not the book for people who need a solid storyline as you may have surmised from all of the negative reviews. However, if you're game for a scattered internal monologue that is chock full of startlingly astute observations and passages that resonate so deeply you have to highlight and return to them, proceed.