Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir

Penguin. Mar. 2020. 256p. ISBN 9780593083338. pap. $26. SOC SCI
Solnit (Men Explain Things to Me) reflects on her life using a feminist perspective so that her experiences navigating a patriarchal society might be instructive to younger women. Through these essays, Solnit shows her progression from a young, unsure woman to confident, experienced writer. Along the way, she muses on issues such as gentrification, gender violence, bodily integrity, poverty, and the nature of change. Her recollection of her feelings regarding violence and being silenced are particularly resonant. The city of San Francisco is a key character in her life story, as its neighborhoods and residents evolve along with her. Despite such heavy subject matter, Solnit’s passion for reading and writing shines through. Her tone is authoritative, but reassuring. She knows who she is and which forces have shaped her. Additionally, Solnit realizes the power of naming inequity, violence, and oppression against women, though she is coming from a privileged perspective.
VERDICT An engaging look at Solnit’s life, which succeeds in giving voice to inequity caused by patriarchy. Recommended for memoir aficionados, especially feminist audiences.
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