The Faraway Nearby
A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
In this exquisitely written new book by the author of A Paradise Built in Hell, Rebecca Solnit explores the ways we make our lives out of stories, and how we are connected by empathy, by narrative, by imagination. In the course of unpacking some of her own stories—of her mother and her decline from memory loss, of a trip to Iceland, of an illness—Solnit revisits fairytales and entertains other stories: about arctic explorers, Che Guevara among the leper colonies, and Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein, about warmth and coldness, pain and kindness, decay and transformation, making art and making self. Woven together, these stories create a map which charts the boundaries and territories of storytelling, reframing who each of us is and how we might tell our story.
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One summer some years ago, on a peninsula jutting off another peninsula off the west coast of Iceland, I lived among strangers and birds. The birds were mostly new species I got to know a little, the golden plovers plaintively dissembling in the grass to lead intruders away from...
--The New Yorker
"What Solnit offers us, I think, is the future of memoir. Not the story of the self . . . but the ways in which one's story opens into other stories . . . literary nonfiction doesn't get more beautiful and compelling."
--The American Scholar
"A beautiful and profound book of essayistic reflection on memory, family, grief, travel, and storytelling."
"The product of a remarkable mind at work, one able to weave a magnificent number of threads into a single story, demonstrating how all our stroies are interconnected."
"[A] brilliant, genre-refuting book. The power of The Faraway Nearby, as in Solnit's previous writing, lies in its juxtaposition, its clusters of narrative nerves. . . . Solnit is a wanderer who collapses distance."
--San Francisco Chronicle