Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

"My Earliest Memory Is Riding a Galapagos Turtle in Peru": Rebecca Solnit, Author and Essayist

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

"My Earliest Memory Is Riding a Galapagos Turtle in Peru": Rebecca Solnit, Author and Essayist

Article excerpt

Rebecca Solnit was born in Connecticut in 1961. She is the author of 20 books and numerous essays, including the collections "Hope in the Dark" and "Men Explain Things To Me", which led to the coinage of the term "mansplaining".

What's your earliest memory?

My first memories are from Lima, Peru, where we lived the third year of my life. I remember riding a Galapagos turtle in the zoo, an earthquake, the back garden and some blurry bits from Lake Titicaca.

Who are your heroes?

My childhood hero was my literary aunt for having a whole wall of books and eloquence and wit about most of them. My adult heroes include the US's poet laureate Joy Harjo, the young people in the US climate lawsuit, the Sunrise Movement, and the dedicated staff of Oil Change International.

What book last changed your thinking?

Ocean Vuong's fantastic new novel On Earth Were Briefly Gorgeous reminded me that every word can be an incantation, and that beauty does hard and important work.

Which political figure do you look up to?

The people I admire most are activists, not elected officials: those leaving water in the desert for undocumented immigrants; the Native American convergence at Standing Rock; the millions whose names we'll never know who make the changes that politicians only ratify in the end.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

I've described my mind as being more like a steel sieve than a steel trap; a lot of odds and ends stick in it and a lot washes right through. For a brief time I knew more about the photographer Eadweard Muybridge than all but one or two other living people. …

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