I’m not sure any writer stimulates me like Rebecca Solnit. Her dead-aim truth telling and her exquisite control of language serves up so many reminders and inspirations. In “Silence Is Broken,” an early essay in The Mother of All Questions, Solnit writes: The task of calling things by their true names, of telling the truth
In 1963, James Baldwin published “A Talk to Teachers” in Saturday Review. (When he gave the speech, Baldwin called it “The Negro Child–His Self-Image.”) As many of his essays did, this piece showed America as it was, not as it was imagined or mythologized. Sadly, his reminders remain relevant half a century later.
I always picture him struggling with the oil painting as he made his way through the lobby of New York’s Biltmore Hotel. But the physician thought it important to bring a bit of home with him, a proxy for the actual wilderness he left behind. After all, he traveled all that way–from the flat-bottomed floor of Skagit Valley to the skyscrapered heights of Manhattan–to protest on the mountains’ behalf, to tell Kennecott Copper that the heart of Glacier Peak Wilderness Area was no place for a mine.