Rebecca Solnit with Carrie Brownstein
A metaphorical dusting ourselves off and asking, where were we, now? Almost exactly one year after the announced live and in-person appearance by Rebecca Solnit and Carrie Brownstein would have happened for her extraordinary, then-newly released memoir, Recollections of My Nonexistence (Penguin) but had to be scuttled, as most all else did, with the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects taking hold, we are delighted to be able to present the two of them virtually in conversation, this time knowing what ‘zoom’ is in doing so. This memoir, coming in the wake of Rebecca Solnit’s most recent previous books, including Whose Story is This? and Cinderella Liberator, is a singular work of insight, voice, and context - the ability to see own her coming into adult life from personal, as well social, cultural, and historical perspectives. It is a memoir writ large - instructive for and to so many learning to navigate into meaningful, engaged, adult life.
“For Solnit fans, her new memoir is a glimpse of all that was ‘taking form out of sight,’ providing a key to understanding much of her work to date. Yet simply as a coming-of-age narrative, it also has much to offer someone new to her writing. [Recollections] often reverses the figure-ground relationship, portraying the emergence of a writer and her voice from a particular cultural moment and set of fortuitous influences . . . [It] often reads as a letter to young activists and women writers—less ‘back in my day’ and more ‘I fought, and am fighting, the same battles you are … At the same time that [Solnit] describes her forays into her past, she invites us to connect pieces of her story to our own, as a measure of how far we’ve come and how far we have left to go.” —Jenny Odell, The New York Times Book Review.
“Rebecca Solnit’s opposition to injustice in its many forms, and her relentless inquiry as a writer and reporter into a great range of issues—racial injustice, nuclear weapons, indigenous rights, male hegemony—have defined the outrage and politics of much of her generation. In Recollections of My Nonexistence she draws all these potent metaphors for inequity together into a moral stance that transcends the particulars of all her topics. This is a remarkable book—smart, brave, edgy, insightful, and authentic.” —Barry Lopez.
As was the plan a year ago, it will be Carrie Brownstein - she of Sleater-Kinney and Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl renown - in conversation with Rebecca Solnit. Delayed gratification this all is, but this certainly should be gratifying to all who take this in.
Since the last time, to the best of recollection, Rebecca Solnit publicly appeared in Seattle, her landmark essay collection, Men Explain Things to Me, had been most recently published - this coming after an already vital body of writing that included such books as The Faraway Nearby, River of Shadows, Hope in the Dark, Hollow City, A Paradise Built in Hell, and more. The half-dozen years since Men Explain Things to Me have brought readers at least six more titles, including this past year’s Whose Story Is This? and her recasting of the Cinderella story, Cinderella Liberator.
“An inquisitive, perceptive, and original thinker and enthralling writer . . . Solnit has created an unconventional and galvanizing memoir-in-essays that shares key, often terrifying, formative moments in her valiant writing life . . . [and] illuminates with piercing lyricism the body-and-soul dangers women face in our complexly, violently misogynist world . . . an incandescent addition to the literature of dissent and creativity.” —Booklist.
“This powerful memoir reveals how Solnit’s coming-of-age as a journalist and a woman in 1980s San Francisco shaped her as a writer and a feminist. She grapples with sexual harassment, poverty, trauma, and women’s exclusion from the cultural conversation, while discovering punk rock and the LGBTQ+ community as safe havens. Her words have long empowered people who feel voiceless, and her latest book is no exception.” —Good Housekeeping.
Tickets ($22) include a paperback copy of Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir (shipped via media mail to an address in the continental U.S.) A limited number of the books will include a bookplate signed by Rebecca Solnit.