In his poem, “Digging,” Seamus Heaney writes of the work of a writer:
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.
Joan Didion famously said, “we tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
This is precisely what Rebecca Solnit does in The Faraway Nearby. From spoiling apricots and symbiotic relationships to fairytales, myths, and stories of survival, Solnit digs into her relationship with a distant and jealous mother battling the slow mental decay of Alzheimer’s disease.
This book has more layers of resonance than an Icelandic vínarterta. With Solnit as cartographer, no two things are so far removed from one another that she can’t uncover a resonant connection as she charts the emotional territory of our shifting identities and how these shifting selves influence our relationships. Solnit makes for an erudite yet unpretentious traveling companion on this journey of the self — a trip you don’t want to miss.
We feed on sorrows, on stories, on the spaciousness they open up when they let us travel in our imagination beyond our own limits, when they dissolve the boundaries that confine us and urge us to extend the potentialities of our imperfect, broken, incomplete selves.
— Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby
— February, 2016