A Novel

Book - 2020 | First edition
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"Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practice her other calling: she is a fake shrink. For years, she has tended to her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. They have both stabilized for the moment, but Lizzie has little chance to spend her new free time with husband and son before her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. She's become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right wingers worried about the decline of western civilization. As Lizzie dives into this polarized world, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you've seen the flames beyond its walls. When her brother becomes a father and Sylvia a recluse, Lizzie is forced to address the limits of her own experience--but still she tries to save everyone, using everything she's learned about empathy and despair, conscience and collusion, from her years of wandering the library stacks . . . And all the while the voices of the city keep floating in--funny, disturbing, and increasingly mad" --Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2020
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780385351102
Branch Call Number: Fiction OFFILL,J
Characteristics: 207 pages ; 20 cm


From the critics

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Jul 02, 2020

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.

Jun 28, 2020

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.

Jun 23, 2020

Very good

JCLFlanneryC Apr 03, 2020

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.

Mar 28, 2020

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.

JCLZachC Mar 10, 2020

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.

WCL_Morgan Mar 06, 2020

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.

ArapahoeKati Mar 05, 2020

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.

Feb 16, 2020

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.

ArapahoeAlice Jan 22, 2020

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.

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