Sunday, December 12, 2021

The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit


I had mixed feelings about this author's most famous essay collection, MEN EXPLAIN THINGS TO ME. I thought the titular essay was quite good but that the overall essay collection felt mixed in theme and tone, and walked away feeling a little befuddled. Not so with THE MOTHER OF ALL QUESTIONS, which is like if Solnit's first book was a Charmander with Confusion who was fed a berry and then evolved into a fire-breathing, socially aware Charizard. It packed a mean punch and was nearly perfect. The emotion and the organization was SO MUCH BETTER.

This is a collection of feminist-themed essays, mostly revolving around the work that still needs to be done. Some of the topics in this book: how a woman's decision to have children is irrelevant to her professional career or the way she defines herself as a woman; the way silence is used and weaponized to preserve the status quo; the way most great and "universal" works of literature tend to be from the white male perspective; the way people miss the point with the book, Lolita; and so much more.

Even though this is a pretty short book, it took me a while to read because 1) the writing is pretty dense at parts and 2) I really wanted to take everything in. I'm honestly so impressed at how Solnit has evolved as a writer. The fire in the writing smoked off the pages. This book reminded me of a much more serious version of Lindy West's THE WITCHES ARE COMING. It has that same call to action feel, while also being a scathing analysis of pop culture, culture at large, and the work we have left to do. Really, really well done.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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