A Field Guide to Getting Lost takes in subjects as eclectic as memory and mapmaking, Hitchcock movies and Renaissance painting.
Beautifully written, this book combines memoir, history and philosophy, shedding glittering new light on the way we live now.
I read somewhere once that we are the last generation who will ever get lost, as GPS-equipped phones make that experience a thing of the past. Instead, I believe we may be the last generation who will know where we are, relative to other places, as opposed to being forever simply “here”.
Solnit sees getting, and being, lost not as a problem, but as a pleasure, or opportunity for growth, or something to be learned from. In a series of chapters, she explores a variety of ways to get lost – spatially, in our thinking, in our memories – or to lose something or someone. The chapters themselves articulately meander through a variety of ideas, then, just when you wonder if Solnit has herself lost her train of thought, she ties up the topic with insight and wit.
The most startling thing about disasters, according to award-winning author Rebecca Solnit, is not merely that so many people rise to the occasion, but that they do so with joy. That joy reveals an ordinarily unmet yearning for community, purposefulness, and meaningful work that disaster often provides. A Paradise Built in Hell is an investigation of the moments of altruism, resourcefulness, and generosity that arise amid disaster’s grief and disruption and considers their implications for everyday life. It points to a new vision of what society could become-one that is less authoritarian and fearful, more collaborative and local.
This famous and influential essay is included here along with the best of Solnit’s feminist writings. From rape culture to grandmothers, from French sex scandals to marriage and the nuclear family, and from Virginia Woolf to colonialism, these essays are a fierce and incisive exploration of the issues that a patriarchal culture will not necessarily acknowledge as ‘issues’ at all. With grace and energy, and in the most exquisite and inviting prose, Rebecca Solnit proves herself a vital leading figure of the feminist movement and a radical, generous thinker.
The first essay in this little book starts with the now-famous anecdote:
The term “mansplaining” was subsequently invented by another author, and so we now have a name with which to skewer this kind of behaviour.After the light-hearted tone used for telling this anecdote (albeit with more than a hint of gritted teeth), the essay rapidly gets darker and more serious. The whole book is a short series of essays covering various aspects of patriarchy: from mansplaining, to rape culture; from why same sex marriage equality does indeed threaten “traditional”, that is, grossly unequal, marriage, to the obliteration of women's voices; from arguing with Susan Sontag arguing with Virginia Woolf, to the history of women's movement.
All this is beautifully written with verve, and passion, and rage, and makes for excellent, but uncomfortable, reading.