Hay Festival Book of the Month – April 2020
One summer, Rebecca Solnit was bequeathed three boxes of ripening apricots, which lay, mountainous, on her bedroom floor - a windfall, a riddle, an emergency to be dealt with. The fruit came from a neglected tree that her mother, gradually succumbing to memory loss, could no longer tend to.
Gifts come in many guises. From this unexpected inheritance came stories spun like those of Scheherazade, who used her gifts as a storyteller to change her fate and her listener's heart. As she looks back on the year of apricots and emergencies, Solnit weaves her own story into fairytales and the lives of others - the Marquis de Sade, Mary Shelley and Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. She tells of unexpected invitations and adventures, from a library of water in Iceland to the depths of the Grand Canyon. She tells of doctors and explorers, monsters and moths. She tells of warmth and coldness, of making art and re-making the self.
And she explores the ways we make our lives out of stories, and how we are connected by empathy, by narrative, by imagination.
At a time when many of us are living in isolated confinement, here is a deeply moving account of why we create and how inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places.