Can you still just tend your own garden once you know about the fire outside its walls?

notes on Jenny Offill’s new novel; Weather (2020)

A month ago I read Offill’s Dept. of Speculation – and fell in love with her digressive-fragmentary style. To me this is a way of writing which resembles my own thoughts – Offill’s text mirrors my own thought process; a constant rambling – .

Offill’s narrator in Weather is a smart & funny woman called Lizzie Benson. Lizzie is working as a librarian on a university campus, she is married to a man who once had other ambitions but now works in IT. Together they have a son, Eli, who might be a rather strange guy – or maybe just become a bit strange through Lizzie’s odd narrative?

And then there is … the weather:

“Nobody wants to be seen as the person waving their hands and saying it’s all going to end,” Jenny Offill says in an interview about her book. “But at a certain point these concerns and worries are so widespread that they transform into all different sorts of things.”

(Adventfjorden, Svalbard – my photo)

Lizzie has a voice you want to listen to. Her observations of herself and the world are at once recognizable and surprisingly strange; see for examples her tendency to pick up odd information – information of no obvious use …

Scientists say that the theory of everything is a technical expression, not a metaphysical one.

Her comments on life are wry but not misanthropical,

“What is the core delusion?” Margot asks the class, but nobody knows the right answer, and she doesn’t bother to tell us.

actually there is a very fine love & respect for human wise & weakness in the text. Just listen to this:

But how to categorize this elderly gentleman who keeps asking me to give him the password for his own email? I try to explain that it is not possible for me to know this, that only he knows this, but he just shakes his head in that indignant way that means, What kind of help desk is this?

All quotations from: Offill, Jenny. Weather (2020) Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.