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19
4.3 out of 5 stars
A Field Guide To Getting Lost
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2012
A series of essays and thoughts on the feelings associated with being lost or losing. I fet that that they were linked, but did not always have a flow from one to the other.

That said the writing in here is exceptional. Solnit writes with such a sense of place and purpose, and she is easily able to evoke a place or a time or a memory with consummate ease.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2013
A thoughtful book. I would say that it seems the title has been picked because it sounds cool, not for its relationship with the content. Many of the essays are about loss, or memories, rather than about being lost, or getting lost. Which was somewhat disappointing, since the first essay ends posing the question: `How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?'. This is not the central theme. I can of course see how loss and being lost play off one another, but *getting* lost, *finding* the unknown; hmmm, not as much as is suggested.

But once you've put aside those raised expectations, once you realise this is not really her intention, it is mostly an ejoyable thoughtful read. Some essays are far stronger than others: illuminating and amusing on Klein, a fascinating alternative Vertigo, and the colour Blue permeates. Essays about her relationships, a lost friend (though terribly sad), and a rather poetically forced meandering about turtles did not work nearly so well. I've read she understandably hates being lumped in with the Haight Ashbury miasma, but you can see why she sometimes is.

Anyway, her questioning and seeking, her meandering tangents do indeed often illuminate and give pause for thought. It all speaks of sane person (at least, as sane as anyone one person might be). She has written more satisfyingly (Wanderlust and Muybridge), but this book is an easy going and pleasant companion.
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107 of 123 people found the following review helpful
Rebecca Solnit is an essayist/writer from San Francisco and author of a number of successful books including A Field Guide to Getting Lost. I remember reading the field guide a year or so ago but wasn't able to quote more than a few lines from chapter two: the blue of distance. There was something about Simone Weil, the Hindu God Krishna & light, lots and lots of light. I needed to revisit the book, time had dulled my memory of the book but I vividly remember my initial breathless reaction to the writing, having to lay the book down and pace my flat repeating the words and them settling like dust around me. I remember carrying the book with my in my shoulder bag & dipping into it in the public park close to where I live in Edgbaston, Birmingham. I didn't remain seated for long during my reading, something in Solnit's writing drove me to my feet and meant I didn't pay much attention to where I was walking. I walked safely but managed to get lost in the process, which I think Solnit would be proud of.

Rereading the book to prepare for this review has been a deeply rewarding experience and have discovered that it has subtly influenced my reading over the last year or so. Authors quoted or books mentioned have quietly appeared on my bookshelf, as if summoned by being read. I can't claim this book will change your life, I'm not even sure it's what changed mine but I can trace the resonance of phrases, the impish nudge towards uncertainty and the words "the blue of distance" back to this book.

Solnit shares from her own experience, quotes liberally from other authors and is unashamedly intelligent and rich in her writing but is in no way alienating with her prose. She holds our attention whilst writing eloquently about loss, being lost and uncertainty. She comes back again and again in the book to the idea of "the blue of distance", she turns it over like a paperweight and explores from different angles.

You should rush out and buy this book, read it, forget about it and then reread it. There's a strange alchemy at work when you're reading it and it will mark you once you've finished. Your dreams will shift to a more bluish hue, you'll want to answer the call of adventure, the lure of the horizon and find yourself sneaking through open doors at every opportunity. My review stands as the last signpost before you wander into your own desert following Solnit's footprints in sand and I encourage you to chase her ideas where they lead you. Toss that map aside, enjoying being uncertain and above all: Get lost!
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on 8 July 2015
A thought provoking collection of essays on the concept of being lost.

Meandering between childhood memories, species extinction, travel, absent friends, departed loved ones and different approaches to living, there is great truth in the thinking that to find yourself, you must first try and get lost.

This isn’t my normal kind of reading, but I enjoyed it and the writing makes it a personal experience, with plenty of time for contemplation.

I was lost in these musings and am the better for it.
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on 1 September 2015
We had a chapter of this given us in a Creative Writing class - so I bought the book. The excerpt was the first chapter, which is the best. The second starts with a false premise which a very brief conversation with a scientist would have inverted - every alternate chapter continues the same chapter title. Actually turns out that even when scientifically inverted the literary conclusion is true.
HINT: blue light travels further because it gets lost.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2015
There's a remarkable aspect to the positive reviews I see of this book: they are either extremely short, saying that the respondent liked the book, the packing was good and little more; the others, fewer in number but as revealing, are surprised by the range of references in Solnit's account and respond very positively what is clearly the style and manner of a belles lettrist, that unfashionable beast. It is as if the former are lost for words in the face of a writer who in fact has no more in her locker than most with a decent college education and who have continued reading beyond it; that and the fact that Solnit's is calculated High Style. The latter if not surprised, are at least as delighted. But what has she actually to say? Well nothing very remarkable; if you are familiar with the Western Canon nothing here will surprise you, especially if you are fond of, say, Montaigne and know the Naipaul brothers' brilliant non fiction and the catholic brio of Adam Phillips. I think that this book would in fact be more impressive if it was not quite so contrived, she will bring the baroque a bad name. It may say much about me that I was put off by the contrived writing style of the book, but without question hers is prose for those who mistake self-conscious phrase-making for good writing - Bernard Levin syndrome - it is actually rather precious. I couldn't finish this book, it was too overdone. She tries too hard, which did not work, not for this reader: that her books' titles bear little if any relation to the contents - Geoff Dyer, her British equivalent, does the same - is an example of what might kindly be called her 'poetic' sensibility, or at least how she confects it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 2 August 2013
A delightful book. Spanning several topics, experiences both personal and educational; a gorgeous, slow journey through the whimsical, deep, human and joyful. It is a book that defies any clear category, and for this I am grateful.
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on 24 April 2015
Fantastic speedy delivery and book as described. Thank you :)
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on 27 November 2014
Very well written. Most enjoyable
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on 1 August 2014
Just amazing!
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