Like her previous bestseller, Dept. of Speculation, Offill’s new novel is built by a series of vignettes – quotes, snippets of conversation, witty asides – representative of her protaganist’s fragmented state of mind.
Lizzie, a university librarian, takes on a second job answering the mail of her former mentor Sylvia, a public intellectual who tours the world speaking on the dangers of climate change. She also cares for her God-haunted mother and recovering addict brother, while trying to maintain her relationship with her husband and prepare her bright, creative son for a precarious future.
Amid all this, Lizzie is trying to reconcile her fascination for the minutiae of daily life with a constant awareness of impending doom. Acutely aware of own “ridiculous” choices – catching a cab rather than public transport because she feels sorry for the driver; learning to make candles from a tin of tuna – Lizzie sums up the prevailing tension between everyday demands, personal desires, and a sense of lurking catastrophe.
Written amid the charged atmosphere of Trump’s election, Weather is both dark and witty. A book for our times.