A Word on Words | NPT

S5 E14 | FULL EPISODE

Weather | Jenny Offill | A Word on Words | NPT

“Hope cannot exist in and of itself. I can't just be hopeful for the sake of it. I find that I have to figure out actions that feel like they create a less precarious life for the future." Author Jenny Offill talks to host Mary Laura Philpott about WEATHER on NPT’s A Word on Words.

AIRED: July 24, 2020 | 0:03:14
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TRANSCRIPT

(typing on typewriter)

(bell ringing) (soft music)

- Hi, I'm Jenny Offill and this is "Weather"

a novel about a librarian who slowly

becomes a climate change doomer.

(soft music)

The novel in general is sort of about

what it means to start widening your circles of care.

And what does it mean to keep deciding that

that person isn't a stranger that you're hearing about

that they are someone else that you're both in it together.

(soft music)

- This book somehow knows everything I feel anxious about.

Did you have a sense as you were writing

that you would be striking such a nerve?

- Younger people have been afraid

and obsessed with this for some time, but for people my age

and people who are not working in the specific field,

I think it seemed somewhat abstract until more recently,

if you live in the West and are lucky enough

to not have it quite at your doorstep yet.

But what's been interesting,

it took about six and a half years to write the book

is I went from seeming like quite an outlier

with my concerns to finding more and more people that I knew

when I told them what I was writing about saying,

"Oh my gosh, I too am experiencing this dread

"about what's going to happen with the climate."

(soft music)

- [Mary Laura] What gives you hope?

- [Jenny] I heard a quote from Isak Dinesen that said,

"Write a little bit each day,

"without hope and without despair."

And I've never succeeded in doing that,

but I do think sometimes that hope cannot exist

in and of itself.

I can't just be hopeful for the sake of it.

I find that I have to figure out actions

that feel like they create a less precarious life

for the future.

So, for me, that's meant that I wrote this novel,

which I was never intending to write about the climate

when I first began it.

And also that I've pushed myself a little bit

to do more activism,

and that's been an antidote to the dread.

(soft music)

- I'm gonna open up "Weather" and hold it up

so our viewers can see this very unique style you have here.

- I wanted to try to find a form

that was closer to the way that I myself think.

And I wanted it to be able to include

those kinds of moments where you think something,

but then you double back a little bit and doubt yourself,

or you have one thought

and then you leap to another thought.

(soft music)

- [Mary Laura] Jenny, thank you so much

for joining us from home.

- Thank you for having me.

What a pleasure.

- And thank you for watching "A Word on Words".

I'm Mary Laura Philpott.

For more of my conversation with Jenny Offill,

visit a wordonwords.org and keep reading.

(soft music) (bell ringing)

- [Jenny] In order to just get through the days

we have to believe that we have

a modicum of control and safety.

And every once in a while,

the rug is sort of pulled out from underneath us

and we realize that we didn't have as much control

and safety as we thought.

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