“Weather” is a very short, observational stream of consciousness. The story and the narrator’s musings reflect those weird thoughts and dysfunctional relationships we all have (I think).
Lizzie is a middle aged, married, mother of one who is keenly aware of aging and the peculiarities of the world around her. Lizzie works in the library of a university, a job procured for her by her friend and former university professor Sylvia. Sylvia is a rather well known lecturer although the actual focus of her expertise eluded me.
Like most novels, the story focuses on real life issues like aging, relationships, career, family and motherhood. But unlike most novels, the story unfolds in a clipped, free flowing, sort of disconnected way, more like life itself.
Lizzie ended her education in graduate school in an effort to help her drug addicted brother, Henry. More on that later. She is self-conscious about working in a library without an appropriate degree and knows that the librarians resent her. The day before her birthday, one of the librarians acknowledges her saying: “Now you are officially middle aged” Lizzie concludes that “…She has never liked me because I don’t have a proper degree. Feral librarians, they call us, as in just wandered in from the woods.”
Reflecting on her age, Lizzie observes: “My #1 fear is the acceleration of days. No such thing supposedly, but I swear I can feel it. “ And “Young person worry: what if nothing I do matters? Old person worry: what if everything I do does.” And “I am old enough now that I sometimes think I am making a fool of myself by doing something that would not have attracted notice when I was younger.”
Lizzie has a husband Ben who, honestly, seems too good to be true, particularly in the context of everyone else in the novel. They have a son Eli, who is in the first grade. Lizzie is constantly musing over Eli and the mistakes she is making in his upbringing. “Why didn’t I have more kids so I could have more chances?” Eli is a character and like every first grader loves and hates his mother in equal doses. When Eli asked her if she was sure she was his mother because “Sometimes you don’t seem like a good enough person,” she let it go. “And now years later, I probably only think of it, I don’t know, once or twice a day.”
Lizzie has a completely dysfunctional relationship with her brother Henry. Henry has drug issues, as well as deep psychological issues. It was Henry’s problems that caused Lizzie to drop out of graduate school. Throughout the short novel, Henry cleans up, gets a job, gets married, has a child, relapses, gets divorced and ends up on Lizzie’s couch. Lots in between.
There are characters that float in and out of the novel. Nicolais the mother of one of Eli’s classmates and Lizzie makes special efforts to avoid her. And then of course “later it occurred to me. There’s no way I could have kept from running into her all these years by chance alone.” There is also the drug dealer and the busy body in her apartment building, the meditation therapist, her mother and her journalist friend Will. Actually, there is a lot going on in this very short novel.
Weather is an idiosyncratic, amusing, and yet poignant novel that covers a lot of ground. Sometimes the story is so funny you can’t help but laugh out loud and sometimes it’s so tragic you just want to weep. At the same time, Lizzie’s experiences are relatable and reflective. Give it a try—it is really short and you won’t be sorry. You can reserve “Weather” at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.