Weather by Jenny Offill simply put is a story about Lizzie, a librarian who becomes a dooms day prepper while working answering emails for a dooms day podcast, however this story is far from simple. It is both incredibly funny and incredibly dark, and although this book may be short by no means should you underestimate its punch.
The core of the book is centred around climate change as a ‘hyper object’ that due to its enormity we continue to go about our day to day ignoring the realities of this big issue. Lizzie is unable to ignore this anymore as her daily life of being both Mother and wife while looking out for her addict brother is broken up with quick thoughts or emails linking climate change to her everyday reality. It is also no accident that this book is set during the upheaval 2016 American election adding unrest to uncertainty.
I was immediately flawed by Offills ability to write in such short burts that give so much to the reader. Every sentence has a place in the book and empty spaces around paragraphs serve as a way of not tipping off the reader as to whether it is a big moment or not. The use of this fragmented writing style is used to expose the way our minds think. This incredibly clever paired back style of writing coupled with the creative use of such a hot topic is no surprise Offill has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020.
Particularly interesting is the extensive research Offill conducted whilst writing this book, much of which didn’t make it in as this book was initially going to serve as a sort of future climate change survival manual for her daughter. Quick facts shine through out the novel even touching on matters close to home like the millionaire bunkers that lie through out New Zealand. The weight of all this research became so consuming when writing the novel for Offill that she confesses she became the person who ruined the dinner party conversations for years.
I loved this book, it’s just so smart to remind us of the reality of climate change through the lens of a fictional character in a way that’s not jarring like the news.