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This novel sits at the intersection of flash fiction and novel. I enjoyed it very much, but flash fiction is also something I enjoy. Those who prefer their novels with a straight narrative flow may find this one frustrating.
Globe 100 2020. Failed academic works at help desk in university library.
Hemingway and Carver were literary minimalists, never a word too many or a phrase out of place. Canadian Alistair MacLeod wrote stories that were lyrical, rhythmic, and powerfully evocative of the experience of being human, questioning, and faith-fullness. Offill's Weather is almost a collision of these two extremes, creating a novel that is not a novel in the traditional sense of being an extended narrative. It is a minimalist evocation of powerful, doom-laden experiences laced together by over-abundant interstices. A unique and special reading experience.
A number of decades ago, paint splatter art, a variant on the abstract expressionist movement, became quite popular; I suspect that had something to do with freeing up the senses, removing boundaries to both expression and perception. When I view a Jackson Pollack, I’m allowed to interpret it in any way I choose; depending on how many ounces of Scotch I’ve had, the possibilities become endless.
Jenny Offill has tossed random thoughts at her keyboard, in what seems like a brainstorming session to see what sticks (or perhaps many sessions on her analyst’s couch).
My problem with all this is that she’s no literary Jackson Pollack. Individual random fragments of her stream of musings sparkle amid the babble but the totality of result just left me shaking my head. A novel this is not.
There’s a comic strip in our local daily paper called “Pardon my Planet” that features this kind of thing: occasionally clever, often cynical snippets of life among “thirty-somethings” that apparently express the views of urban populations today. I can’t say whether that strip or Offill’s musings offer any insight into our current existence but I suspect that whatever they do say about us is inconsequential.
And therefore a waste of time.
Probably the worst, go nowhere story I have ever read. Had high hopes because of the reviews but for me the author's writing style did nothing for me. Lucky it was such a short read. Would not recommend.
I picked this book up, because Jenny Offill is mentioned often by the editors of the NYT Book Review. Her style is unique, as she doesn't string her stories together with long paragraphs. Instead, she has short one- or two-line paragraphs that are grouped into short segments. Each of these short paragraphs reads almost like poetry to me. I found myself laughing out loud throughout the book. It's funny and clever and engaging. I will likely read other books by Jenny Offill. I think I read this book in about a day, so it grabbed me and didn't let me go until I was done with it.
Lost interest early in the narrative. The story is told in disjointed paragraphs. Don't want to work that hard to piece together the story.
I'll be honest. This is probably a smarter book than Dept. of Speculation, but I enjoyed it a little less. I think it is one that takes multiple readings to really reveal its depths. A smart take on the modern condition and our lack of concern for the environment.
I loved Dept. of Speculation, and love Jenny Offill because she's both erudite and unpretentious, ambitious but accessible. This book started out strong for me but fizzled out, I don't know why. I was hoping for more like a late Anthropocene "Miss Lonelyhearts" or more from a librarian's POV, ha ha, but this book becomes estranged from its characters and abandons its central premise, and though digressions are Offill's trademark style, this one wanders too far off course for me. Still, I this book has many "good parts" and is recommended for anyone who's curious.
Offill's colorful mind presents social ditties through the everyday life of librarian, Lizzie, who encounters people in a bookstore and family who represent a cross section of parts of all of us. It's somewhat organized stream of consciousness with a mix of humor. Insightful and perceptive writing.
Frantic and disjointed, we are constantly bounding through librarian Lizzie Benson's life. With a short novel, Jenny Offill translates the sharp edges of existential dread that can permeate the current climate we live in onto the page.
I devoured this little book. "Weather" is an enchanting and poetic account of an Academic Librarian’s day-to-day as she navigates life during uncertain times. With a non-linear plot, readers are thrown into Lizzie’s head as she cares for her recovering-addict brother, navigates her marriage, raises her son, and copes with her own social and eco-anxiety.
I loved the writing and the concept, but it took some time for it all to come together. Definitely not a novel in the traditional sense, but that's why it was interesting.
I am not sure I would have finished this book if I wasn’t reviewing it. It all came together in the end, as Lizzie uses the accumulation of knowledge she’s gained while being a librarian. She’s got a marriage, a busy son, a crazy mentor who Lizzie is helping, her brother, a former addict who is now a father and a mother obsessed by God. How can she juggle all their problems along with her own is quite an adventure and I am glad I finished the book. If you are looking for a book with strict plot structure, this isn’t it, but it’s a good look at a woman’s fragmented life and how she copes with everything that she must.
An unusual novel written in wonderful short paragraphs, all told from the point of view of the protagonist, Lizzie, a married academic librarian whose life is disrupted when she is hired to answer mail for a famous futurist. I was impressed with how much I understood about the people in Lizzie's life based on short flashes of information: her son, husband, brother, brother's girlfriend, library patrons, coworkers, and mentor. Love the sense of humor. It's a small short book that delivers an interesting story.
Another pithy, funny, quotable installment from the wonderful Jenny Offill. Here, Lizzie deals with her reformed addict brother, her husband and son, her job at the library, climate change, her "officially middle-aged" birthday and its attendant existential musings. Then the 2016 election, which focuses musings into dread. Offill dovetails with Lorrie Moore in my mind--not faint praise.