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Arts & Culture

Eclectic And Erudite, The ‘Encyclopedia Of Trouble’ Author Is Here To Enlighten Us

Rebecca Solnit's current book cover

A highly acclaimed author is coming to San Antonio on Wednesday to speak at Trinity University and I  spoke to her last Friday. When you’re talking to Rebecca Solnit, it doesn’t take long to realize she’s probably the smartest person around in most rooms she enters.

“What happens in disasters is highly variable and it depends a lot on our social structures and our belief systems and solidarity.”

She’s been to the site of many disasters, studies what goes on there and has written about them, as well as a wide expanse of other topics.

“From the 2011 tsunami in Japan, to politics in Iceland, to strange cultures in Silicon Valley, and everything else. The book covers a lot of ground and I probably will too.”

Her most recent is The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness. So did disaster bring out a standard reaction from people or did that just vary from place-to-place?

“There’s a very widespread pattern in Asia, Latin America, North America, Europe, where, actually, ordinary people respond really, really well. They’re altruistic, brave, resourceful, creative. And institutional authorities respond really, really badly.”

I asked what it was like to be a writer in a time where the written word seemed to be worth less. She didn’t really agree with the premise.

“I feel like a lot of my work is exposing the stories that are so deeply ingrained, they’re often invisible. And helping trying to raise the question — is this who we want to be? This is what happens when we tell the story of who we are, and this is what happens when we change the story? And I feel like it’s a really exciting time to be a writer, and for all of us. What’s real Democracy?”

She’s speaking at Trinity University’s Holt Center on Wednesday.

“You know, for a writer I don’t think it could be a more exciting time to be alive and working and participating in this contest of meaning.”

We've more on Rebecca Solnit here.

For more on her Trinity University appearance, go here.

For more on her current book, go here.