Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscape for Politics

Rebecca Solnit, Author . Univ. of California $24.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-520-25109-0

These provocative essays by National Book Critics Circle award–winner Solnit (Wanderlust , etc.), mostly published in magazines like the London Review of Books and Sierra and in books by other authors over the past seven years, attempts to understand politics through place. Her meditations often begin with landscape, but for her, "to be in the woods is not to be out of society or politics." She goes far beyond pristine nature, as she considers the mythology of the American West, ponders Silicon Valley—which she calls "a non-place"—and muses about antiglobalization protest sites in California and Miami. The impediments people use to keep strangers out of their gardens distress her, as do barriers that would seal the U.S. off from the rest of the world. She celebrates vibrant public spaces, laments malls and rails against the displacement of Asher Durand's painting Kindred Spirits from New York City to Arkansas, by a Wal-Mart heiress whose fortune is built on a philosophy antithetical to that of the painting. Activists and idealists Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs and Betty Friedan, and the visionary architect Teddy Cruz give her hope. Always insightful, these essays offer many shrewd observations about the social, political and cultural landscape of contemporary America. Photos not seen by PW . (June )

Reviewed on: 04/16/2007
Release date: 06/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 429 pages - 978-0-520-94178-6
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-520-25656-9
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