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Recollections of my nonexistence

by Solnit, Rebecca,

Format: Print Book 2020
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"At the same time that [Solnit] describes her forays into her past, she invites us to connect pieces of her story to our own, as a measure of how far we've come and how far we have left to go." --Jenny Odell, The New York Times Book Review

An electric portrait of the artist as a young woman that asks how a writer finds her voice in a society that prefers women to be silent

In Recollections of My Nonexistence , Rebecca Solnit describes her formation as a writer and as a feminist in 1980s San Francisco, in an atmosphere of gender violence on the street and throughout society and the exclusion of women from cultural arenas. She tells of being poor, hopeful, and adrift in the city that became her great teacher, and of the small apartment that, when she was nineteen, became the home in which she transformed herself. She explores the forces that liberated her as a person and as a writer--books themselves; the gay community that presented a new model of what else gender, family, and joy could mean; and her eventual arrival in the spacious landscapes and overlooked conflicts of the American West.

Beyond being a memoir, Solnit's book is also a passionate argument: that women are not just impacted by personal experience, but by membership in a society where violence against women pervades. Looking back, she describes how she came to recognize that her own experiences of harassment and menace were inseparable from the systemic problem of who has a voice, or rather who is heard and respected and who is silenced--and how she was galvanized to use her own voice for change.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "An inquisitive, perceptive, and original thinker and enthralling writer with more than 20 salient books to her name, Solnit has created an unconventional and galvanizing memoir-in-essays that shares key, often terrifying, formative moments in her valiant writing life. Already living on her own at 19, Solnit moved into a light-filled apartment in San Francisco in the early 1980s and lived and wrote there for a quarter of a century, learning invaluable lessons in self and community from her African American and gay neighbors and watching the city change. Solnit muses on her love of reading and wandering and recounts how she found her way to writing nonfiction that evokes life both factual and felt. She also illuminates with piercing lyricism the body-and-soul dangers women face in our complexly, violently misogynist world. Her own encounters with sexual aggression taught her the art of nonexistence, since existence was so perilous, yet Solnit has sent herself on intrepid journeys in pursuit of understanding the contradictions of existence. An activist as well as a writer steeped in history, landscapes, and art, Solnit has become a feminist hero for her critiques of sexist acts great and small, while remaining dedicated to change and hope. This is an incandescent addition to the literature of dissent and creativity.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2020 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Author and activist Solnit (Whose Story Is This?) writes in this enlightening, nonlinear memoir of her life as a poor young woman in 1980s San Francisco and her development as a writer and feminist thinker. As a teen, Solnit fled a volatile home life to forge her path. She rented an apartment in a black neighborhood ("I was the first white person to live in the building in seventeen years") and acquired a writing desk from a friend who was nearly murdered by an ex ("Someone tried to silence her. Then she gave me a platform for my voice"). While in graduate school, she worked at a museum--which informed the writing of her first book, Secret Exhibition--and struggled to be heard in a world that favored male writers. In fluid, vivid prose, she recalls the terror she experienced while walking the streets alone, not knowing if she'd be attacked or raped, and considers how negative representations of women in art affect creative output ("How do you make art when the art that's all around you keeps telling you to shut up and wash the dishes?"). Along the way, she highlights her publishing achievements, including the viral essay "Men Explain Things to Me," which inspired the term mansplaining. This is a thinking person's book about writing, female identity, and freedom by a powerful and motivating voice for change. (Mar.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Solnit, Rebecca.
Women authors, American -- 20th century -- Biography.
Publisher [New York, New York?] :2020
Language English
Description 244 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN 9780593083338
Other Classic View