Rebecca Solnit is the author of numerous books, including Hope in the Dark, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, and As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender, and Art, which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. In 2003, she received the prestigious Lannan Literary Award.
Solnit (A Book of Migrations) casts a wide net in an attempt to understand what walking contributes to the human experience. She argues that creativity has been linked to walking from human's first steps and that, now, our speeding culture discourages people from taking the time to walk. If this happens we risk losing a critical tie to ourselves as well as our communities and landscapes. Solnit's smart and entertaining points come to life through her study of the many literary references to walking (by such authors as Rousseau, Wordsworth, Woolf, Muir, and many others) and a social overview of the many ways people have incorporated walking into their lives (through pilgrimage, wilderness hikes, political marches, and city strolls, to name a few). Each of these modes of walking is a vibrant part of this compelling, sometimes meandering, social history. Throughout, Solnit clearly enjoys the different feelings and philosophical thoughts that walking evokes, often telling stories of her own walks along the way. Personable, but challenging and serious, this is recommended for all libraries. [See profile of Solnit on page 185.--Ed.]--Rebecca Miller, "Library Journal" Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Walking, as Thoreau said and Solnit elegantly demonstrates, inevitably leads to other subjects. This pleasing and enlightening history of pedestrianism unfolds like a walking conversation with a particularly well-informed companion with wide-ranging interests. Walking, says Solnit (Savage Dreams; A Book of Migrations), is the state in which the mind, the body and the world are aligned; thus she begins with the long historical association between walking and philosophizing. She briefly looks at the fossil evidence of human evolution, pointing to the ability to move upright on two legs as the very characteristic that separated humans from the other beasts and has allowed us to dominate them. She looks at pilgrims, poets, streetwalkers and demonstrators, and ends up, surprisingly, in Las Vegas--or maybe not so surprisingly in that city of tourists, since "Tourism itself is one of the last major outposts of walking." Inevitably, as these words suggest, Solnit's focus isn't pedestrianism's past but its prognosis--the way in which the culture of walking has evolved out of the disembodiment of everyday life resulting from "automobilization and suburbanization." Familiar as that message sounds, Solnit delivers it without the usual ecological and ideological pieties. Her book captures, in the ease and cadences of its prose, the rhythms of a good walk. The relationship between walking and thought and its expression in words is the underlying theme to which she repeatedly returns. "Language is like a road," she writes; "it cannot be perceived all at once because it unfolds in time, whether heard or read." Agent: Bonnie Nadell. 4-city author tour. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"Solnit is an elegant essayist . . . [she] joyfully trespasses
across disciplines and genres, tracing a path through philosophy,
paleontology, politics, religion, and literary criticism."
--The New York Times
"A tour de force . . . Solnit, a writer of unflagging grace, has
a remarkable ability to wrest meaning from the mundane."
--San Francisco Chronicle