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Jenny Offill's 'Weather' is brilliant satire of current moment

The last time we heard from Jenny Offill – 2014’s brilliant “Dept. of Speculation” – the world was a fundamentally different place, at least in the day-to-day-living sort of way. Most of us weren’t terribly obsessed by a man in a large white house spinning the world into chaos one tweet at a time, though the actual planet already was waist-deep in the quicksand of our worst decisions, environmentally speaking.

In “Weather” (Knopf, 224 pp., ★★★★ out of four), Offill’s much-anticipated return, the author reclaims her distinctive narrative style – she writes in declarative bullets more than scenes – to deliver us a woman on the edge of our collective oblivion, both before and after 2016 election.The results are glorious, dizzying, disconcerting and often laugh-out-loud hysterical, in all the meanings of that last word.  

Lizzie, like many of us, has a spouse, a child, a sibling and two jobs, neither of which she’s entirely qualified for. She works as a librarian at a university, though that’s not what her degree is in, so her co-workers consider her “feral.” She also works as a quasi-personal assistant for Sylvia, her former mentor, who now hosts a popular podcast, “Hell and High Water,” about modern life amidst climate change. She also travels the country as a public intellectual, and Lizzie is tasked with answering her many emails, which start out relatively normal: “Why do humans like applause?” But as society flips, the questions turn decidedly darker: “How can I tell if those around me would become Good Germans?”

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