I bought this book while I was in New York in April. I wanted to see the Strand bookshop, to see their 18 miles of books. Of course, it was virtually impossible to see all parts of it in one go, especially when your hands are full of books after the first 15 minutes. I bravely put a stop to the madness at the 8th book, and Solnit was one of them.
It is a collection of her essays published in 2017. The date is important because she refers to some current affairs, but when you read the book later you start wondering why she’s not addressing the other, the answer is, of course, the timing. Solnit stays faithful to her subject matter of feminism, social inequalities, and climate change. You could think she is boring if it wasn’t for the fact how current the problems she describes still are.
In this book we get eleven essays, grouped into two sections: The Silence is Broken and Breaking the Story. The difference is the approach to the topic, in the first part she seems to be a lot more focused on facts and examples, while the second part focuses a lot more on the language and how it shapes our perception of the world. The fact that we don’t have words for many phenomena, which makes them elusive, even though they take place. The fact that we easily categorize things and people, and how those categories can be leaking and damaging yet they’re necessary for our brains to process information.
Also more often than in other essays I ready by Solnit she put herself in the men’s shoes. Noticing how patriarchy is a double-edged sword. It results in the discrimination of women, but it also results in the suppression of many behaviors that are not acceptable as ‘manly’. She also notes that feminism needs men and they did start joining the discussion. Because really patriarchy is good only for the 1% that hold the power, the rest of us are damaged by it in different ways.
As always her essays are full of passion, when you read them you can hear her speak. And this more informal language makes them more accessible, easier to relate to. It also makes it easier for the reader to form our won ideas in response to hers. Definitely a thought-provoking book.