The Faraway Nearby

Rebecca Solnit

Published: 1 May 2014
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 272 pages
ISBN: 9781847085122
£9.99

Overview

Gifts come in many guises. One summer, Rebecca Solnit was bequeathed three boxes of ripening apricots, which lay, mountainous, on her bedroom floor - a windfall, a riddle, an emergency to be dealt with. The fruit came from a neglected tree that her mother, gradually succumbing to memory loss, could no longer tend to. From this unexpected inheritance came stories spun like those of Scheherazade, who used her gifts as a storyteller to change her fate and her listener's heart.

As she looks back on the year of apricots and emergencies, Solnit weaves her own story into fairytales and the lives of others - the Marquis de Sade, Mary Shelley and Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. She tells of unexpected invitations and adventures, from a library of water in Iceland to the depths of the Grand Canyon. She tells of doctors and explorers, monsters and moths. She tells of warmth and coldness, of making art and re-making the self.


About the author

Image of Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is author of, among other books, Men Explain Things to Me, Wanderlust, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, the NBCC award-winning River of Shadows and A Paradise Built In Hell. A contributing editor to Harper's, she writes regularly for the London Review of Books and the Los Angeles Times. She lives in San Francisco. More about the author


Reviews

‘[A] passionately imperfect, extremely moving, original and humane book... Beautiful’ Joanna Kavenna

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Reviews

‘[It is] a work of art with many layers, and readers will be rewarded each time they revisit this wonderful book’ Katie Archer

‘[It is] at once memoir, literary criticism, and inspirational touchstone, a meandering yet purposeful exploration of how we spin and follow stories, and of how they can lead us on a journey toward self-definition and empathy’ Heller McAlpin

‘[Solnit] presents us with a fascinating insight into the mind of a writer’ Sarah Tawton

‘A powerfully insightful and moving memoir... Fittingly for a book about the power of storytelling, Solnit is a terrific practitioner of the art’ Stephanie Cross

‘An astute cultural critic’ Saul Austerlitz

‘An exhilarating form of literary cartography... wonderful’ Jon Day

‘An extraordinary piece of work in which the personal and philosophical meet’ Siobhan Kane

‘Brilliant [and] lavish’ Robin Romm

‘Complicated, powerful, acutely, even painfully, personal... Solnit is profoundly antagonistic to formulaic production’ Olivia Laing

‘Gripping... Solnit deserves to be widely read’ Sara Wheeler

‘Her writerly digressions obey shapely geometry, not random dérive. [The book is] artfully composed to a unifying scheme, which arises from Solnit's commitment to the storytelling craft and its necessary devices... Finely-wrought, intense and eloquent’ Marina Warner

‘Here is Solnit at her most stimulating: pointed (even outraged), grounded in history, observing from the outside’ S. J. Culver

‘If you want a very different, lyrical take on how our lives are surrounded and defined by the stories we tell, Solnit's latest book is one of the finest of this or any year’ Andrew Losowsky

‘Like Simon Schama, Solnit is a cultural historian in the desert-mystic mode, trailing ideas like swarms of butterflies’

‘Pithy, beautifully observed, full of both truth and provocation... Solnit is an extraordinary artist’ Julia Bell

‘Provocative and extremely thought-provoking... it inspires nothing short of awe’

‘Solnit explores love and loss, warmth and coldness, the making of art and the remaking of the self - her distinctive, dense and at times stunning, storytelling hacks a path through the creative landscape’ Alexandra Murphy

‘Solnit fashions an elegant study in empathy through these meandering reflections’ Gabe Habash

‘Solnit has a winning prose style... Imaginative sentences are dropped here and there’ Theresa Munoz

‘Solnit is an explorer of the most exquisite kind, and a writer of the public road... We follow [her] mind, and what a mind it is, as vast and intriguing as a system of caverns and passageways opening into yet more caverns and passageways... Courageous’ Kurt Caswell

‘Solnit is asking us to pause, to consider the stories we tell ourselves about our lives, and to rethink the unstated assumptions of our own interior epics... a book-length primer in the uses of empathy... Rich [and] poignant’ Saul Austerlitz

‘Solnit is the champion of a style of writing that loops, circles, changes direction... In an era when much of western culture seem unwilling even to acknowledge the political challenges facing us, looming environmental crisis above all, Solnit is a role model’ Susanna Rustin

‘Solnit manages to do what many memoirists aspire to but few accomplish: she turns the personal into the universal’

‘Solnit's words are exquisite; each chapter weaves a fabric of personal experience, literary or historical anecdote and intimate conversation’ Kate Padilla

‘The best chapter is on Iceland... her descriptions are wonderful’ Frances Wilson

‘The book is a lovely one that may bring many readers catharsis or consolation... One loves Solnit for her intelligence and her uprightness... Compelling and unique’

‘This [book is] about stories - how we use them, the way we tell them. [It] moves between memories from her mother, to more classic fairy tales... you'll want to pen your own by the end’ Lena de Casparis

‘This is narrative as jazz improve, each refrain exploring a new melody or theme. Yet familiar strains recur again and again. Metaphors abound, and Solnit seems to believe that all of life could be looked at as an allegory to be deciphered’ Craille Maguire Gillies

‘This is one of more beautifully written books we've read this year, filled with insight and gut-wrenching phrases. It is simple to read, yet generates complex reactions in the reader. If you enjoy stories and storytelling, this book will expand your understanding of them, and yourself’

‘Tracing the warp and weft of such a work, written with a moving flatness and vagrant wisdom, is a pleasure that frequently carries an almost tactile sensation, so brightly does it sparkle’ David Anderson

‘While the structure seems elegant, the writing never loses that real-life feeling that everything might fall apart at any moment’ Denise Frame Harlan





 
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