Tag Archives: Rebecca Solnit

Call Them By Their True Names: American Crises (And Essays) by Rebecca Solnit

call them by their true names- american crises (and essays) by rebecca solnit Title: Call Them By Their True Names: American Crises (And Essays)
Author: Rebecca Solnit
Publisher: Granta Books
ISBN: 978-1783784974
Genre: Political Science, Feminist Criticism, Essays
Pages: 192
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 stars

I think I would read Solnit even if she would write in a greeting card. She is that powerful as a writer, and I am sure a great human being. Rebecca Solnit has written on a varied number of topics – from the history of walking, to space and how to maintain it, to bow to get lost, to how men explain things to women – she has touched every single surface when it comes to writing (more or less), and this time this collection of essays is her masterstroke.

These essays are telling of our times and it is scary to observe the world we live in. Solnit speaks of the election of Donald Trump and makes no bones about her disagreement. Her essays more than being timely or savage are honest and backed with facts. The insights are spot-on and attempt to diagnose what ails the American culture. Right from the MeToo movement to the incarceration of African-American men, to the misleading speech of President Trump, Solnit emerges as one of the most powerful cultural critics that the world of literature possesses.

Solnit’s writing is powerful, stark and a representation of the times we live in. This collection of essays ends with the injustice Americans (mostly) face every single day – from the cynicism, to police shootings, the gentrification, and the crises that ultimately define America today. As she so eloquently puts it, ““Being careful and precise about language is one way to oppose the disintegration of meaning, to encourage the beloved community and the conversations that inculcate hope and vision. Calling things by their true names is the work I have tried to do in the essays here.”

The primary ideas behind the book are the naming and precision of language which somehow also tends to fall short somewhere, more so in alignment with what Solnit is trying to talk about. Sure it is from a very personal space and she acknowledges that. My favourite essays were: “Twenty Million Missing Storytellers”, which is on voter suppression, “Milestones in Misogyny” about the 2016 presidential election is sympathetic to Clinton and I thought was written with a lot of force.

“Call Them By Their True Names” is a powerful read, the one that makes you question, stand up, take notice and see what is going on with America and therefore with the rest of the world. The one that deserves to be read right now!

 

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The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit Title: The Faraway Nearby
Author: Rebecca Solnit
Publisher: Viking
ISBN: 9780670025961
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

When you read Rebecca Solnit, you are in effect reading a world. I don’t say this flippantly mind you. I say this with utmost earnestness because this is what her writing does to you. It makes you consider the world and what it is made of, what it is not and what it should be. It makes you think, feel and perhaps at some point change your life. I started my Rebecca Solnit journey when I read “A Field Guide to Getting Lost” which I highly recommend to one and all. This book that is “The Faraway Nearby” is all about storytelling and empathy in various forms and emotions as we live along the years.

“The Faraway Nearby” is a meditation of sorts – it quietly urges you to sometimes be alone and sometimes just observe the world as it goes by. I know maybe I am being too philosophical, but trust me when I say that this book makes you think logically and emotionally at the same time, which is a rare feat in itself.

So what is this book about?

It is about Solnit’s mother’s Alzheimer’s and the stories that weave through her childhood and adulthood, step by step as the disease unfolds itself and how those stories have helped her shape her life and destiny. It is also book the far-reaching impact of stories in our lives and how they make us who we are and stay with us right till the very end.

The book uncovers failed and successful relationships. It speaks of illness, mortality and its limitations, and of having an identity which is so prone to change and how to actually make it more stable. Solnit introspects all of this through a legacy of an abundant crop of apricots from a tree at her mother’s former home. The chapters are intertwined with memories, harsh realities and so many consolations in being alive and all of this is linked to the way those apricots are rotting and what she does with them.

“The Faraway Nearby” is an exploration, it is also a kaleidoscope, and it could also very well be just a manifesto on how to live (at least for me). It is not a self-help book. It does not preach. It does not sermonize. It just reflects and speaks of the world we live in and how stories and empathy are heavily dependent on each other.

Here are some quotes from the book to give you an idea of what the book is like:

“A book is a heart that only beats in the chest of another.”

“Books are solitudes in which we meet.”

“The present rearranges the past. We never tell the story whole because a life isn’t a story; it’s a whole Milky Way of events and we are forever picking out constellations from it to fit who and where we are.”

“The object we call a book is not the real book, but its potential, like a musical score or seed. It exists fully only in the act of being read; and its real home is in the head of the reader, where the symphony resounds, the seed germinates.A book is a heart that beats in the chest of another.”

“Pain serves a purpose. Without it you are in danger. What you cannot feel you cannot take care of.”

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Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit Title: Men Explain Things to Me
Author: Rebecca Solnit
Publisher: Haymarket Books
ISBN: 9781608463862
Genre: Non-Fiction, Essays
Pages: 130
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Rebecca Solnit takes the topic of feminism and women issues by the horns and tells you all about it, without mincing her words. “Men Explain Things to Me” was on my bookshelf for quite some time. I was a little hesitant to read this because I thought it might be too preachy, but when I did get down to reading it, it broke all my misconceptions.

“Men Explain Things to Me” is about women and men and how we all are when it comes down to the dynamics between the two. The essays in this book are thoughtful, insightful and reflections on photographs and what is going on in the world, when it comes down to violence against women and making them subversive.

Women face a crueler world. They do and Solnit makes no bones about stating that. At the same time, she presents a world that is ridden with male privilege, misogyny and sexual entitlement, no matter how much we refuse to face it. That is what it is.

Rebecca Solnit looks at incidents all over the world and does so with a microscopic angle. She takes into account the political, sexual and daily work perspectives as well, when talking about men and women.

“Men Explain Things to Me” is quite an eye-opener about the world we live in and it is just sad that even though we know about what goes on, we sometimes turn a blind eye or think that everything is right. I cannot stop recommending this book to anyone. It is meant for us all. To realize what can be saved while we still have time and conscience.

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