cover image Whose Story Is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters

Whose Story Is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters

Rebecca Solnit. Haymarket, $15.99 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-64259-018-0

Solnit (Hope in the Dark) highlights gains in the reframing of the American narrative in her incisive latest essay collection. The new narrative, she argues, is progressive and wider in scope, and makes room for the voices of women and people of color. In a moving open letter to Christine Blasey Ford, who testified to the Senate during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her while the two were in high school, Solnit notes the cultural and legislative changes that came about after Anita Hill’s testimony to demonstrate how the results of such an act of bravery “rippled outward in all directions.” In “The Problem with Sex Is Capitalism,” Solnit explores the entitlement that causes some misogynist men to become violent when denied access to women’s bodies; in “If I Were a Man” she enumerates the challenges of being a woman devoted to her career in a society that still expects women to sacrifice their own ambitions in order to be a caregiver and supporter of others. The collection’s standout, “A Hero Is a Disaster,” suggests a reevaluation of the American ideal of “rugged individualism” to reflect the fact that America’s (and the world’s) problems cannot be solved by single actors, but by “movements, coalitions, [and] civil society” working in tandem. Solnit reasserts herself here as one of the most astute cultural critics in progressive discourse. This brief but trenchant collection will please her fans. (Sept.)