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caption: Author Rebecca Solnit 
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Author Rebecca Solnit
Credit: Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Becoming Rebecca Solnit: a room and a life of her own

Fans of Rebecca Solnit and Carrie Brownstein were looking forward to seeing them in person in a great Seattle hall around this time one year ago. The occasion was the publication of Solnit’s memoir Recollections of My Nonexistence. We all know certain circumstances kept the event from occurring.

For not-yet but perhaps soon-to-be fans, Solnit is a writer, journalist, historian, and activist. The New Yorker’s Katy Waldman writes, “To read Solnit is to brush up against emotions and intuitions you almost don’t recognize, because language is so seldom considered the best way to approach them.”

When I read, I ceased to be myself, and this nonexistence I pursued and devoured like a drug. . . . I was a fog, a miasma, a mist. -RS

Recollections starts when Solnit was 19 and living in San Francisco, a place that shaped her work and her feminism. There, she found the solitude she needed to write, as well as inspiration and kindred spirits among artists, the gay community, and punk culture. The memoir touches on common themes of her writing: racial injustice, indigenous rights, sexual harassment and exclusion, poverty, trauma, and “how invisibility permits atrocity.”

That a lot of men wanted and still want to harm women, especially young women, that a lot of people relished that harm, and a lot more dismissed it, impacted me in profoundly personal ways. -RS

Rebecca Solnit has written more than 20 books “on feminism, western and indigenous history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering and walking, hope and disaster.” Carrie Brownstein is a famed riot grrrl musician, actor, and author. She is a co-founder of the band Sleater-Kinney, a co-creator and star of the sketch comedy television series Portlandia, and the author of the memoir Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl.

This online event, presented by The Elliott Bay Book Company, took place on March 14, 2021. Fans around the world tuned in. Elliott Bay’s Rick Simonson introduced the program.

Please note: This recording contains unedited language of an adult nature.