Weather by Jenny Offill [9/10]

A muscular masterpiece, “Weather” features Lizzie the New York librarian, acutely observing her customers even as she tends to her young son, patient husband, and ex-addict brother, Henry. When her former mentor, now a climate change nihilistic podcast star, ropes Sylvia in to answer nutcase questions, and Henry overreaches by marrying, Sylvia’s world careens between end-of-the-world anxiety and ultimate-carer anxiety. Told in pithy, lurching fragments as sharp as bullets, “Weather” elicits miniature laughs while the overall arc approaches Armageddon. This novel will surely divide readers, requiring as it does keen word-by-word attentiveness and obliqueness, but for this reader, it perfectly captured the ever escalating Trump-era dread percolating today’s world. Lizzie is a character begging for movie treatment, and even though the book is slim, the supporting cast of characters is huge and precisely observed. Under the pen of a lesser experimentalist, the style would surely be cute to the point of cringing; instead, Jenny Offill nails a voice that spoke to me and has echoed ever since. Brilliant.

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