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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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Prizewinning American author, Rebecca Solnit, has named her latest book after a painting by the artist Georgia O'Keeffe: 'From the Faraway, Nearby' - an interesting choice of title for an unusual and very interesting book. Part memoir, part psychological examination, Solnit uses her series of elegant and diverse essays and reflections to confront rather painful subjects, such as the intense and difficult relationship between herself and her rather bitter and resentful mother; her mother's frightening descent into dementia; and, amongst other subjects, a health crisis of the author's own.

However, this is not just an examination of illness, death and difficult family issues, nor is it a depressing book, for Rebecca Solnit uses her very competent storytelling skills to take the reader on a journey through time and landscape, where we have the opportunity to meet famous characters and look at events from their lives, whilst the author cleverly weaves their stories into her own. So, on the journey, we read about Scheherazade and 'The Arabian Nights'; Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, Mary Shelley, the author of 'Frankenstein'; Che Guevara; Napoleon; the Marquis de Sade; and, amongst others, the Chinese artist from the Tang dynasty, Wu Daozi, who painted a picture of a landscape with mountains and a cave, and then stepped into the cave and disappeared in order to escape the wrath of the Emperor.

Fluid and beautifully written, I found this an intriguing and rather fascinating book; one to keep on the bookshelf, to read and experience again - I am also now interested in looking at the author's previous books, perhaps starting with:A Field Guide to Getting Lost.

4 Stars.
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on 24 October 2014
I was a bit disappointed with this book. There are some interesting and lyrical passages and the difficult relationship with her mother is honestly portrayed but there was something relentless and humourless about the writing which made me glad to get to the end. I have preferred earlier works by her.
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on 29 August 2013
I like the way Rebecca Solnit writes, so for me I enjoyed the book. I think some may find her musings a little long winded, but for me it was a good holiday read. It dragged a bit in the middle but there were some lovely ideas in it.
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This is my first encounter with Solnit, after hearing her lauded on a TED talk by an engaging Irish writer whose name I forget but who recommended her and Adam Phillips as thought-provokingly unpredictable. A few obvious things need mentioning: she is intelligent, kind and has written two pieces of this collection about her Mother suffering from Dementia, a timely subject. I was put off by one reviewer calling her "The prizewinning Rebecca Solnit" since that's as meaningless as "the prizewinning 'Rocky' " (the worst film to win the Oscar: it is indeed no guide to quality. Watch it and tremble). No quibble, there's something I think of as Creative Writing School syndrome at work here: the prose is a bit too self-conscious, it likes to be looked at, admired: its favourite is the colour purple. Now that I have sloughed off Pater's account of The Mona Lisa' as the acme of brilliant prose for that of V.S. Naipaul's lucid but austere beauty (as seen in the first sentence of his 'The Search for El Dorado'), I have trouble with any style that calls attention to itself, aside from Sir Thomas Browne's and my own! Still this may not be typical and I may grow into appreciating it, but rarely for me, I find myself lured away from Solnit's work to the latest Tony Judt (if you like history, GET IT!). I would not leave Naipaul for anything; Solnit has a way to go to approach the grumpy Trinidadian. Perhaps as a tribute to her Mother she was trying too hard, might be the kind view. I think that she needs to relax and let her prose draw closer to her skin. But to be fair it's an interesting portrait of herself and her family and the relationship with her ailing Mother is touching. It would have been a more impressive piece if RS had taken a lesson from the Spinster of Amherst.
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on 18 September 2015
Beautiful haunting book that will touch your soul. Terrible cover though which almost stopped me from buying it! I thought it must be a self-published book at first! Don't let the cover stop you.
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on 6 July 2015
Interesting as always from Solnits, but much less informative or Interesting than 'a field guide to getting lost'.
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on 3 March 2017
Rebecca Solnit is a very gifted writer. I loved this beautifully written and insightful memoir
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on 15 July 2015
Interesting Read. Maybe not quite my cup of tea as I kept losing concentration.
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on 30 November 2014
She's my find of the year, I love her books.
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on 12 July 2016
Excellent item.
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