Since I first wrote over the summer about deliberately and accidentally, literally and figuratively, getting lost, I have been a bit more tuned in to the topic.
It must have also struck a chord with others, because that original post and subsequent related ones seem to be more popular here.
So, here’s what caught me about the book (besides the title) gleaned from the cover, some page turning and a look online.
Solnit says that the word “lost” derives from the Old Norse for disbanding an army. That’s a tough connection to make. She makes the connection of making “a truce with the wide world.”
The book is a set of loosely linked essays. Solnit is described as a cultural historian. It seems like the essays may have led from one to the other – like a wandering in the woods. How else would you get from early American captivity narratives to hermit crabs, to conquistadors and a grandmother in an asylum and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo? She wanders the American west to country music (after a youth loving punk rock) and adds her own narrative too.
Not all reviews of the book I found were positive. In The New Yorker:
“Solnit’s writing is as abstract and intangible as her subject, veering between oceanic lyricism (“Blue is the color of longing for the distance you never arrive in”) and pensées about the limitations of human understanding (“Between words is silence, around ink whiteness, behind every map’s information is what’s left out, the unmapped and unmappable”) that seem profound but are actually banal once you think about them.”
Well, I was attracted to it by its title, and we know that’s not the way to pick a book, but I’m going to give it a chance. And it I like it, I might just wander over to another book of hers called Wanderlust: A History of Walking which sounds like a good followup to being lost.