Alum Rebecca Solnit's Memoir: Much More Than Feminist Manifesto

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
THE NEW YORKER -- Although Solnit has long worked in a personal register, her latest book, “Recollections of My Nonexistence,” is her first to bear the label of “memoir” — and the first, perhaps, not to take its author’s existence for granted. The book begins with a 19-year-old Solnit, a woman who feels only half there, drifting through the world like mist. While a senior at San Francisco State University, she moves into a new apartment. The place is huge, antiquated, and cheap. It’s situated in a historically working-class neighborhood that is “alive,” Solnit writes, “in a way that made the suburban places I’d grown up in seem dead and bereft.” Living there, an outsider among outsiders, Solnit begins to claim a sort of “nonexistence”: a romantic, freeing state, in which she finds herself unburdened by society’s expectations.