Friday, June 21, 2013

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit writes personal essays about travel, art, architecture, and culture. In each she mixes her experiences with what she discerns through research. Because the pieces are unpredictable, the reader never knows what to expect, other than Solnit will be insightful and entertaining.

In her 2005 collection, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, her binding idea is that getting lost can be a good thing. Only when you are lost do you have the freedom to discover what you never imagined. She writes about losing one's way, losing things, losing one's confidence or identity, losing loved ones, losing focus, and even disappearing. Even painful loss can yield benefits, such as the deepening of one's soul.

A second common element through many of the essays is the color blue, how it is used and what it means in various situations. Deeper blues show greater distance in Leonardo's paintings. Lakes and the sky are blue until you reach them, and they then prove colorless. Blue can be perceived as calm or cold. We sing the blues. Some of Solnit's reflections on the color are autobiographical, revealing losses in her life, a life about which we come to care in our reading of her essays.

Solnit has written at least a dozen books so far, including A Book of Migrations: Some Passages in Ireland. You may find A Field Guide to Getting Lost your portal to more reading.

Solnit, Rebecca. A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Viking, 2005. 209p. ISBN 0670034215.


laura said...

Further recommendations: If you want to read more about blue, check out Maggie Nelson's Bluets.

And Solnit also wrote this deeply satisfying essay about sexism.

ricklibrarian said...

Thanks, Laura.