Book Review | Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises by Rebecca Solnit

Authour:
Rebecca Solnit
Format:
Trade Paperback
Publication date:
September 4th 2018
Publisher:
Haymarket Books
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:

“To know history is to be able to see beyond the present; to remember the past gives you the capacity to look forward as well, to see that everything changes and the most dramatic changes are often the most unforeseen.” (p. 178)

With all that is happening in the US lately, Rebecca Solnit’s latest essay collection Call Them by Their True Names is an extremely timely read. Having been introduced to her writing from her last collection, The Mother of All Questions which I enjoyed immensely, I was excited to hear that she had a new collection coming out this year.

Unlike The Mother of All Questions, the eighteen essays in Call Them by Their True Names are not tied together as tightly under one theme. Rather the theme here is looser, as the essays are on various, scattered topics ranging from racial disparities to gentrification, to climate change and environmental justice. 

Solnit is a brilliant writer and while her short essay collections may not be the easiest and/or lightest read because they need a great deal of concentration to be able to focus and truly understand each essay it’s all worth it. My favorite essays in this collection were: “Preaching to the Choir” where Solnit argues that it is more worthwhile to motivate and encourage those who are already on your side as opposed to trying to change the minds of those who disagree with you; “Eight Million Ways to Belong ” which is written as a letter to the current US president and focuses on what the wonderful cultural diversity that makes up the “real” New York; and of course “Break the Story” which serves as both a call to arms and motivational speech that should be required reading for those who wish to get into the journalism field. The three stood out to me as they were the most compelling reads in this collection.

Once again, Call Them by Their True Names is another enlightening essay collection from Rebecca Solnit. While I did not enjoy this collection as much as I enjoyed The Mother of All Questions, I did appreciate how Solnit was able to offer hope and encouragement through her essays even while discussing the major problems society is facing today.  

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

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Book Review | The Mother of All Questions: Further Reports from the Feminist Revolutions by Rebecca Solnit

motherAuthour:
Rebecca Solnit
Format:
ARC, 175 pages
Publication date:
March 14th 2017
Publisher:
Haymarket Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I first heard about Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, and as a result I was pleased to receive a copy of The Mother of All Questions: Further Reports from the Feminist Revolutions which is the follow-up to Men Explain Things to Me.

Lately, I’ve been really getting into essay collections and feminist reads especially given all that has been happening in the news and this book definitely quenched my thirst for more. A powerful, and thought provoking read packed collection of essays by the authour from the past two years, there is a great deal of knowledge in this slim volume.

I loved the fact that the introduction told the story of how as a woman writer Solnit is not immune to being asked incredibly personal questions that people often would never think to pose to men. Furthermore, it feels appropriately fitting that the first essay in this collection is a four parter on the (brief) history of silence given what we’ve seen so far of the new presidency in the USA in addition to all the scandals involving several major celebrities and women that have come to light in the recent years.

However, out of all the essays contained in this collection I was particularly fond of Solnit’s reaction to the GQ Magazine’s article “80 Books All Men Should Read” which concludes with her saying that she would never tell someone to not read a particular book and yet it’s important to note that if someone were to continuously read books where characters who are like them in terms of things like sex, gender, race, culture, sexual orientation among other factors are portrayed in a problematic manner it can become almost like second nature to start viewing yourself in that same negative light. I also thoroughly enjoyed The Case of the Missing Perpetrator because of how it pokes fun at how mixed up the government priorities are and how it illustrates just how misleading language can be.

Whether you’re a Rebecca Solnit fan or just a reader who is looking for a book that will enrich your understanding of modern feminism, The Mother of All Questions is an informative read that serves as an excellent introduction or supplement to all the existing feminist theory literature.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.