The Faraway Nearby


Stories are compasses and architecture,” writes Rebecca Solnit in The Faraway Nearby, “we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice.” Much of Solnit’s work is concerned to locate her, and consequently us, within the world by telling stories about it. At its best her writing is an exhilarating form of literary cartography, meandering through subjects as diverse as the development of photography, the philosophy of popular protest and the history of walking while always keeping us in touch with the people at the centre of those stories. The Faraway Nearby, her 14th book, is in some respects a consummation of her method. It is composed of a series of loosely connected essays – on love, trauma, family and fairy tales – which nestle within one another like matryoshka dolls. The loose structure is held together with threads of metaphor and allusion, enacting something of the aimless meanderings of grief itself.

more from Jon Day at the FT here.