"Gifts come in many guises. One summer, Rebecca Solnit was bequeathed a hundred pounds of ripening apricots, which lay on her bedroom floor - a windfall, a riddle, an emergency to be dealt with. The fruit came from a neglected tree that her mother, gradually succumbing to memory loss, could no longer tend to. From this unexpected inheritance came stories, spun like those of Scheherazade who used her gifts as a storyteller to prolong her life and weave her way into the heart of a king. So too came invitations and adventures; in a library of water in Iceland, in the basin of the Grand Canyon, in the imagined emptiness of the Arctic.
As she looks back on the year of apricots and emergencies, Solnit draws together the threads of her life with the lives of others; explorers and artists, the Marquis de Sade and Mary Shelley, the living and the dead. Woven together these stories create a map which charts the boundaries and the territories of storytelling, empathy and giving; an impassioned defence of the spaces we share and the ways in which they form us."