The Faraway Nearby

The Faraway Nearby - Rebecca Solnit Ah, Rebecca Solnit has not failed with this book. I loved "A Field Guide to Getting Lost" and greatly looked forward to this one, reading that it's from the same vein as the other.

This book has one very unique aspect that I haven't seen in any other book: there is a separate story written on the bottom of each page, sentence after sentence. I read it first before reading the actual book, flipping through it and reading only the bottom one. It was a very interesting thought that related moths drinking the tears of birds to other existing stories that were of the same dynamic. Not only was the comparison interesting but I was amazed by the fact about that particular moth species and spent some time reading through encyclopedias for more background knowledge. It was quite fascinating.

I know Solnit tried to interconnect the whole story but it still felt somewhat choppy for me as I read it. It started with much talk of her mother and them jumped to her trip to Iceland. I'm assuming she wanted to connect her next chapter of Mary Shelley and the story of Frankenstein with how it relates to the cold, but it felt rather loose. That particular section felt more like a sudden burst of interesting but nonetheless sudden information that I couldn't place completely with what happened before. The same I felt with the chapter of the Tang dynasty artist Wu Daozi and another about Che Guevara. It was interesting, but rather out of place, in my opinion. It prevented the book from wrapping up completely and working in the circle that Solnit had planned, as can be seen with her use of chapter names (I won't go into details but rather let you discover what I mean for yourself).

Now the ending is very important in a book. It's what makes or breaks it, I think, especially in these kinds of books that are like memoirs and essays all intertwined into one so much that it's rather hard to place the style. The ending wasn't horrible but it did leave me wanting more. Perhaps I just didn't get it. That's very possible, in fact it is the most likely answer, in which case I would then wish that she "dumbed it down" for people like myself and elaborated further, the way she always does throughout her books. But now that's me being nit-picky so...

Overall this is a wonderful book. It explores yet another very interesting theme and uses wonderful examples to elaborate on it and keep the reader's interest peaked. I know I was really indulging in the stories she told and all the details and connections between them. It's a treasure of a book, truly. I wish more people could take a peak inside and be mesmerized by what they find inside. Even if it's not the most perfectly written book it makes up for it greatly with its wittiness and charm.