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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 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; of the small apartment that, when she was nineteen, became the home in which she transformed herself; of how punk rock gave form and voice to her own fury and explosive energy.
Solnit 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 consequences of the voicelessness that was and still is the ordinary condition of women, and how she contended with that while becoming a writer and a public voice for women's rights.
She 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 others.
About the Author
Rebecca Solnit is the author of more than twenty books, including A Field Guide to Getting Lost, The Faraway Nearby, A Paradise Built in Hell, River of Shadows, and Wanderlust: A History of Walking. She is also the author of Men Explain Things to Me and many essays on feminism, activism and social change, hope, and the climate crisis. A product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school, she is a regular contributor to the Guardian and Lit Hub.
Advance praise for Recollections of My Nonexistence:
“Absorbing . . . A perceptive, radiant portrait of a writer of indelible consequence.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“An engaging look at Solnit’s life, which succeeds in giving voice to inequity caused by patriarchy . . . Her recollection of her feelings regarding violence and being silenced are particularly resonant . . . She knows who she is and which forces have shaped her . . . [and] realizes the power of naming inequity, violence, and oppression against women.” —Library Journal
“Enlightening . . . a thinking person’s book about writing, female identity, and freedom by a powerful and motivating voice for change.” —Publishers Weekly