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Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir

Rebecca Solnit

Top 10 Best Quotes

“What is armor after all but a cage that moves with you?”

“We die all the time to avoid being killed.”

“Though patriarchy often claims a monopoly on rationality and reason, those committed to it will discount the most verifiable, coherent, ordinary story told by a woman and accept any fantastical account by a man, will pretend sexual violence is rare and false accusations common, and so forth.”

“I read, I daydreamed, I wandered the city so ardently in part because it was a means of wandering in my thoughts, and my thoughts were runaways, constantly taking me away in the midst of the conversation, the meal, the class, the work, the play, the dance, the party. They were a place I wanted to be, thinking, musing, analyzing, imagining, hoping, tracing connections, integrating new ideas, but they grabbed me and ran with me from the situations at hand over and over. I disappeared in the middle of conversations, sometimes because I was bored but just as often because someone said something so interesting that my mind chased after the idea they offered and lost track of the rest of what they said. I lived in a long reverie for years, went days without much interruption to it, which was one of the gifts of solitude.”

“Nonfiction is at its best an act of putting the world back together - or tearing some piece of it apart to find what's hidden beneath the assumptions or conventions - and in this sense creation and destruction can be akin. The process can be incandescent with excitement, whether from finding some unexpected scrap of information or from recognizing the patterns that begin to arise as the fragments begin to assemble. Something you didn't know well comes into focus, and the world makes sense in a new way, or an old assumption is gutted, and then you try to write it down.”

“The struggle to find a poetry in which your survival rather than your defeat is celebrated, perhaps to find your own voice to insist upon that, or to at least find a way to survive amidst an ethos that relishes your erasures and failures is work that many and perhaps most young women have to do”

“Men’s bodies are weapons and women’s bodies are targets and queer bodies are hated for blurring the distinction or rejecting the metaphors.”

“When I read, I ceased to be myself, and this nonexistence I pursued and devoured like a drug”

“To be a young woman is to face your own annihilation in innumerable ways or to flee it or the knowledge of it, or all these things at once.”

“It was they who taught me that a conversation even between strangers could be a gift and sport of sorts, a chance for warmth, banter, blessings, humor, that spoken words could be fire at which you warmed yourself.”

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Book Keywords:

reading, identity, community, home, die, conversation, learning, minority-view, gratitude, acceptance, curiosity, killed, wisdom, family, isolation, invisibility, blessings, pursuit-of-knowledge, writing, narratives, connection, omission, erasure, life-of-the-mind, neighborhood, adhd, integration, armor, solitude

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