Long and Winding Road
The Faraway Nearby
by Rebecca Solnit
$25.95 List Price
One day not so long ago, Rebecca Solnit found herself with an apricot problem. Her mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and about a hundred pounds of the fruit had been harvested from a tree in the yard of the home where her mother could no longer live, then deposited—fragrant and overripe—on the floor of Solnit’s bedroom. “There they presided for some days, a story waiting to be told, a riddle to be solved, and a harvest to be processed.” With this seemingly simple story, Solnit opens a door into a maze of stories within stories, a dreamlike memoir composed of fairy tales, literary criticism, history, philosophy, and aphorism that takes us from Solnit’s living room all the way to Iceland and back. Her most intimate work to date, the book traces a difficult time in Solnit’s life, as she endured her mother’s descent into the fog of Alzheimer’s, the death of a close friend, and her own struggle with breast cancer. Taking a cue from Buddhism, which “takes change as a given and suffering as the inevitable consequence of attachment and then asks what you are going to do about it,” Solnit launches into an investigation of storytelling that helps her write her way toward something like solace.
Solnit has been compared to both Susan Sontag and Annie Dillard, though her writing is more lyrical and oblique than Sontag’s and her engagement with nature more overtly political than Dillard’s. In The Faraway Nearby, her idiosyncratic style of argument by analogy and imaginative association brings Mary Shelley, Napoleon, revolutionary monks in Myanmar, and many others into a