Recollections of My Nonexistence review ê 9

Rebecca Solnit × 9 characters

Recollections of My Nonexistence review ê 9 Þ 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 silentIn 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 vioN and how she contended with that while becoming a writer and a public voice for women’s rightsShe explores the forces that liberated her as a person and as a writer books themselves the gay men around her who offered other visions of what gender family and joy could be and her eventual arrival in the spacious landscapes and overlooked conflicts of the American West These influences taught her how to write in the way she has ever since and gave her a voice that has resonated with and empowered many othe. This memoir was my first foray into Solnit's long form writing after having become a fan of her feminist essays through which she gained popularity If you liked those this personal piece will likely resonate with you too—her essays have a very distinct voice that blends the political and the anecdotal the political is personal after all while remaining inclusive and this memoir is written in the same vein I love the title and it's really the aptest one she could've gone with since the thread running throughout each chapter is how she found her voice in a society that would've preferred to rob women of one I became silently furious back in the day when I had no clear feminist ideas just swirling inchoate feelings of indignation and insubordination A great urge to disrupt the event reviewer's note the opening for an exhibition of Allen Ginsberg photographs with two sad mentally ill women as the only female subjects in the entire show overtook me; I wanted to shout and to shout that I was not disrupting it because a woman is no one and to shout that since I did not exist my shouting did not exist either and could not be objectionable I was in that room that time clear and angry about my nonexistence that was otherwise mostly just brooding anxiety somewhere below the surface Keeping her background as a writer on art culture places and political and environmental issues in mind it might not come as a surprise that this is not your standard biography You won't learn much about Solnit as a person as far as hard facts go and often than not it was not so much about her but rather about what was happening around her and how that influenced her life's trajectory It's of a series of snapshots of a different time and place a portrait of the artist as a young woman recounting the watershed moments in her formative years and beyond that led to her becoming the writer and activist that she is while fighting against a culture that wanted to silence and erase her make her disappearIn ways than one it reminded me of Patti Smith's airy bohemian memoirs but less dreamy tangible and coherent and Solnit criticizes many of the artists Smith reveres The language is lyrical the feelings very relatable and much like Just Kids was a love letter to New York City in the late 60's and early 70's Recollections Of My Nonexistence is an ode to 1980s San Francisco with its vibrant ueer culture before the gentrification which she contributed to despite the pervasive atmosphere of gender violence and also to the vast expanse of the American West in which she found direction and clarity by solitarily drifting and wandering as Smith did in Year of the Monkey She made me nostalgic for a time I haven't lived through in a city I've only ever visited once and deserts I've only driven through on dusty roads Out on your own you're a new immigrant to the nation of adults and the customs are strange; you're learning to hold together all the pieces of a life figure out what that life is going to be and who is going to be part of it and what you will do with your self determination You are in your youth walking down a long road that will branch and branch again and your life is full of choices with huge and unpredictable conseuences and you rarely get to come back and choose the other route You are making something a life a self and it is an intensely creative task as well as one at which it is than possible to fail a little a lot miserably fatally I have no regrets about the roads I took but a little nostalgia for that period when most of the route is ahead for that stage in which you might become many things that is so much the promise of youth now that I have chosen and chosen again and again and am far down one road and far past many others Possibility means that you might be many things that you are not yet and it is intoxicating when it's not terrifying The evocativeness of her writing is probably a big part of how she always manages to leave me feeling hopeful despite the horrid things it often dwells upon Many feminist works gets me angry and riles me up which is good and necessary—nasty women get shit done—but too much of it and in the long run you'll just wear out and despair Solnit walks that fine line of educating and empowering while also encouraging to believe in the potential for change She's lived through many seismic shifts in society herself which has given her her own hope and she passes it along to the reader as a little light to keep you safe and hopeful in the darkIn digital books I often highlight uotes that make an impression on me; either because of the beauty of the writing itself the pictures they evoke the relatable feelings they describe or sometimes even just because I think that they'd fit into a later review nicely but I'm finding that I did a poor job here or rather Solnit did hers exceptionally well I didn't highlight sentences passages or even paragraphs but entire pages of text because they resonated with me so strongly so I'm leaving much out Instead I'll wrap up with this beautiful thought; a different kind of nonexistence and one I cherish than almost anything When I read I ceased to be myself and this nonexistence I pursued and devoured like a drug I faded into an absent witness someone who was in that world but not anyone in it or who was every word and road and house and ill omen and forlorn hope I was anyone and no one and nothing and everywhere in those hours and years lost in books I was a fog a miasma a mist someone who dissolved into the story got lost in it learned to lose myself this way as a reprieve from the task of being a child and then a woman and the particular child and woman I was I hovered about in many times and places worlds and cosmologies dispersing and gathering and drifting Note I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review————— All my book reviews can be found here · Buy on BookDepository

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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 silentIn 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; of the small apartment that when she was. One of the iconic stories in Ovid's Metamorphoses is the terrible tale of Philomela raped by her brother in law and then silenced by him hacking out her tongue so that she can't accuse him or speak out about her ordeal It's this classic intertwining of violence against women and the muting of female voices which drives Solnit's memoir Don't come to this expecting anything like a conventional autobiography Solnit retains a sense of privacy with regard to her personal life Instead this is a kind of biography of her voice how she moves from a young woman harassed on the streets of 1980s San Francisco and aware of violence against women all around her to the advocate essayist and outspoken feminist writer she is today Solnit may not be a supreme stylist but she is intelligent honest compassionate and empathetic she has that ability to reach out via her words to move from the individual to a voice for other women but without appropriating others' experiences as her own She can be funny too not least when recounting how she came to write her classic essay 'Men Explain Things To Me' Sharp but accessible thoughtful committed a must read for Solnit groupies and those new to her writingMany thanks to Granta for an ARC via NetGalley

summary Recollections of My Nonexistence

Recollections of My NonexistenceNineteen became the home in which she transformed herself; of how punk rock gave form and voice to her own fury and explosive energySolnit recounts how she came to recognize the epidemic of violence against women around her the street harassment that unsettled her the trauma that changed her and the authority figures who routinely disdained and disbelieved girls and women including her Looking back she sees all these as conseuences of the voicelessness that was and still is the ordinary condition of wome. Readers like me who over Rebecca Solnit’s thirty years of writing have fallen in love with her seismic world shifting essays will not be disappointed in this memoir her first longform writing in seven years True to her form this is a memoir not necessarily of the events of Solnit’s coming of age but rather the greater influences in her development as a feminist an activist and a writer in 1980s San Francisco In these pages Solnit describes the formation of her own powerful voice while interrogating the culture that routinely silences women through violence and disregard By sharing these formative years Solnit is sure to inspire and vindicate generations of women and offer much needed encouragement to people of all genders to invest in voices long suppressed