Month 8: The Faraway Nearby

2014-09-10 18.08.16

“Who hears you? […] You choose to hear what corresponds to your desires, needs, and interests, and there are dangers in a world that corresponds too well, with curating your life into a mirror that reflects only the comfortable and familiar, and dangers in the opposite direction as well. Listen carefully.”

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit was enthusiastically recommended to me by a past coworker. We interacted very little, me and this relic of my past, but we ended up in one single conversation — about books, and books worth reading, and so I followed up on her suggestion and immediately fell into the words and tales that flow so effortlessly from Solnit’s pen. Her writing is about everything and nothing at once; it draws connections and relationships that are so familiar and apparent, you aren’t sure how they haven’t always been a part of your world.

When I stumbled upon another of her novels, The Faraway Nearby, in Green Apple Books recently, I picked it up without hesitation and lost myself again in the spacious connections she weaves.

At its core, The Faraway Nearby is a story of stories: it is anchored by the author’s relationship with her dying mother and it poetically articulates the pain of descent into Alzheimer’s. While time loosely moves forward through the novel, the energy comes from Solnit’s many interjections of anecdotes, memories, ideas, and myths. Her strength in drawing connections between the disparate is apparent, almost magical. It’s a lovely book to linger with, to get lost in (though I prefer A Field Guide), and to come out of with new eyes with which to understand the world.