Weather by Jenny Offill
Updated: Mar 23, 2020
Weather is as good as Jenny Offill's previous book Dept. of Speculation. She has mastered an unusual story structure that brings you so far into the main character, Lizzie, that you are no longer an observer.
Most of the story happens off the page, but you know it all because, well, you're there, you're Lizzie. Although much has been said about Weather being about climate change, it is about so much more. It's about desire and despair and the quotidian, often hilarious, littleness of our lives and discovering how small a speck you are in the world. And yet. And yet you are a speck and there are other specks you love. The final line of the book took my breath away—so unexpected and exactly right.
Here are a few excerpts, although it's hard to excerpt out of this book because it really isn't a traditional narrative. I wish I could describe the way she lays the story down. Just buy the book. She deserves the royalties and you deserve the pleasure. You can read it in one sitting then give it to your best friend. Or buy a whole case of them and send them to people you love, or you owe, or who are celebrating something.
This gives you a sense of her brilliant writing:
Page 45 (This made me laugh out loud):
I offer her some birthday cake. She goes into the usual bit about temptation and sinfulness and maybe this and maybe that, and we have to go through every station of the fucking cross before she takes a bite of it. “That was delicious,” she says, then hustles off to make some drinks. I'm on number five, I think. Maybe six.
Page 145 (I laughed here too, at the randomness of her free-associating):
Always a soothing hour of television. At least I don't eat talcum powder, one can comfort oneself. At least I'm not in love with the Verrazzano Bridge.
Page 163 (more laughing):
I just...I couldn't bear the part where you fell out of love with me, I tell the guy who smiles at me on the subway. Telepathically. But he hears me. Now he's playing some game on his phone, not looking at me at all.
About Susan Edsall
Writing is how I make my way through the thicket of what we’ve made of this planet we’re on. It takes me a long time and lots of words. Social media mystifies me. How do so many people have so much to say, so quickly, and with such resolute certainty? Read more about Susan >