Men Explain Things to Me

The title essay in this collection begins with a familiar and hilarious story: the author, a well-known and respected writer, finds herself at a party where a moneyed gentleman condescends to ask about her work. As soon as she begins, he interrupts to tell her about a very important book he has recently heard about, and proceeds to explain what this very important book is all about. The very important book is, of course, the writer’s own, and when her friend points this out, he is “stunned speechless—for a moment, before he [begins] holding forth again.” From that inauspicious but hilarious beginning, Solnit expands into the power structures underlying violence against women, rape culture, and marriage equality. That these essays, previously available separately, have now been corralled into a single collection lets you see the patterns among them.