• Recollections of My Nonexistence

  • A Memoir
  • By: Rebecca Solnit
  • Narrated by: Rebecca Solnit
  • Length: 6 hrs and 41 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (144 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize for Biography

Longlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing 

An electric portrait of the artist as a young woman that asks how a writer finds her voice in a society that prefers women to be silent.

In Recollections of My Nonexistence, Rebecca Solnit describes her formation as a writer and as a feminist in 1980s San Francisco, in an atmosphere of gender violence on the street and throughout society and the exclusion of women from cultural arenas. She tells of being poor, hopeful, and adrift in the city that became her great teacher, and of the small apartment that, when she was 19, became the home in which she transformed herself. She explores the forces that liberated her as a person and as a writer - books themselves; the gay community that presented a new model of what else gender, family, and joy could mean; and her eventual arrival in the spacious landscapes and overlooked conflicts of the American West.

Beyond being a memoir, Solnit's book is also a passionate argument: that women are not just impacted by personal experience, but by membership in a society where violence against women pervades. Looking back, she describes how she came to recognize that her own experiences of harassment and menace were inseparable from the systemic problem of who has a voice, or rather who is heard and respected and who is silenced - and how she was galvanized to use her own voice for change.

©2020 Rebecca Solnit (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2020 by O Magazine, Vulture, Good Housekeeping, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, Bitch Media, and The Millions

"Throughout her rich body of work, essayist and critic Rebecca Solnit has revealed pieces of herself in writings about the beauty of getting lost, the joys of walking both for pleasure and with purpose, and perhaps most famously, the indignity of being mansplained to. At last, she uses her eagle eye to explore her own life. Recollections of My Nonexistence is a marvel: a memoir that details her awakening as a feminist, an environmentalist, and a citizen of the world. Every single sentence is exquisite." (Maris Kreizman, Vulture)

"Rebecca Solnit’s opposition to injustice in its many forms, and her relentless inquiry as a writer and reporter into a great range of issues - racial injustice, nuclear weapons, indigenous rights, male hegemony - have defined the outrage and politics of much of her generation. In Recollections of My Nonexistence she draws all these potent metaphors for inequity together into a moral stance that transcends the particulars of all her topics. This is a remarkable book - smart, brave, edgy, insightful, and authentic." (Barry Lopez)

"One of our foremost thinkers on womanhood explores the journey of her becoming in this deeply personal memoir about her youth in San Francisco. In her searing, sensitive voice, Solnit recalls the epidemic of violence against women...tracing her journey as a writer through her journey to speak out on behalf of women." (Esquire)

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What listeners say about Recollections of My Nonexistence

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Observant, organized, and real...

I find it rare and inspiring to find a mind who brings to life observations with such clarity. It’s not about the usual emotions and self referencing found in a memoir. Memoirs are my thing, and I enjoy all the lessons and distinct revelations of personality. Rebecca reveals herself by revealing her thoughts, at first it felt odd to me because of her style, but then her words sunk in. Those words reveal a poet and artist in her own right.

11 people found this helpful

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Spectacular, Great Work, but Subtle, Delicate & ..

Spectacular, Great Work, but Subtle, Delicate & Precise

Both soft and strong, alive with sensitivity and power. In words, truth and insight with her scenic descriptions of life and of her life.

I am swept away in her lyrically painted flashes of her past and the city.

More please.

Buy it! Read it!

PS In no way similar but equally affecting to many of my other audible favorites

PPS more than 200 audible books mostly dreary clunkers I would dump if it wasn't so tedious.

But Solnit!
Much to thin and small to say I love it
Rather it's wonderful, wise, gentle, strong ...

7 people found this helpful

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One of the most important books of the roaring 20’s

I have read and listened to many of Miss Solnit’s book - but this one is so powerful .
It should be read in Academia as well as by a diverse group of people .
Men, I encourage you to listen it.
Such a deep reflection on the power of voice in our world - and the lack of power of marginalized voices .
An added pleasure was listening to the very end of the book, for the author’s heartfelt acknowledgements.
Highly recommended!

3 people found this helpful

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Solnit speaks truth to power

whatever I read or listen to an article or a book by Rebecca Solnit, I feel heard, understood, and seen. Solnit unapologetically speaks the truths that so many other women have been silenced, shamed, punished for. she points out the insanity of punishing and diminishing people just for speaking the truth, as well as the fact that violence and degradation of women still happens daily, despite claims of equality and progress.

The narrator's reduction of the word "sometimes" to a monosyllabic "s'times," however, was a bit distracting.

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The Lantern Lighter!

Rebecca sees the invisible, the concealed, the veiled, the obscured and in a limpidly straightforward manner lights a little lantern for all to see. Exceptional writing!

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Powerfully indulgent and self-absorbed.

This is just not convincing; Ms. Solnit either had a serious set of early emotional problems or she's simply too deeply into her own drama.

I was very disappointed and worry that she represents her early, at least mildly hysterical self, as a model for young women.

I had thought that she was a better writer and more interesting person.

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Love

Spread this around like plant based butter on organic broccoli. Consume and grow! Peace for all.

1 person found this helpful