Sydney Avey

Dynamic Woman — Changing Times

Book Review: The Faraway Nearby

Aug 5, 2016 | Book Reviews, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Much to ponder in this compelling work of literary art

The Faraway NearbyThe Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The line separating memoir and essay blurs in this book, which serves the reader well. Threaded through the author’s recount of a stressful time in her life, deeper stories exist. When do the stories we have always told ourselves about our lives, loves, and relationships need to be reframed? What are our options when life hands us the lingering illness of an aging mother and caps that with a health crisis of our own? We can stay in place or flee. Solnit does both. 

I loved the author’s meditation on the gift of an oversized crop of apricots. How do you preserve the unique goodness of fragile fruit before it rots? Such effort requires accepting a certain amount of loss and choosing to make something good out of what is left. Likewise, the author explores themes like flight–flights of creativity that feed on chaos, effects of a literal flight to an alien landscape–to come to a place of understanding.

Much like Paul Harding’s literary tale, Tinkers, this book is packed with insight into the sublimeness of ordinary events. It also detours into strange terrain. The author tells us stories of real people with mythological characteristics, and mythological figures who reveal aspects of human nature and experience both heroic and ignoble. It depends on how you tell the story.

“Crises are often resolved only through new identity and new purpose whether it’s that of a nation or a single human being,” the author writes. Our experience is the raw material out of which we fashion our identity and purpose. Much to ponder in this compelling work of literary art.

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