(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
Joan Didion’s incomparable and distinctive essays and journalism are admired for their acute, incisive observations and their spare, elegant style. Now the seven books of nonfiction that appeared between 1968 and 2003 have been brought together into one thrilling collection.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem captures the counterculture of the sixties, its mood and lifestyle, as symbolized by California, Joan Baez, Haight-Ashbury. The White Album covers the revolutionary politics and the “contemporary wasteland” of the late sixties and early seventies, in pieces on the Manson family, the Black Panthers, and Hollywood. Salvador is a riveting look at the social and political landscape of civil war. Miami exposes the secret role this largely Latin city played in the Cold War, from the Bay of Pigs through Watergate. In After Henry Didion reports on the Reagans, Patty Hearst, and the Central Park jogger case. The eight essays in Political Fictions–on censorship in the media, Gingrich, Clinton, Starr, and “compassionate conservatism,” among others–show us how we got to the political scene of today. And in Where I Was From Didion shows that California was never the land of the golden dream.
Didion won the 2005 National Book Award for her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking. This new collection contains her seven previous books of nonfiction Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The White Album, Salvador, Miami, After Henry, Political Fictions, and Where I Was From and takes its title from the first line of The White Album. Some of these books contain disparate essays, others are devoted to just one subject, but either way the quality of Didion's prose is always uniformly high. Irony, a predilection for the extreme, a sense of loss, and her interest in the complexities and ambiguities of existence are just a few of the themes that run throughout, and the subjects whether the brutal conflict in El Salvador or the character of Didion's native state, California are illuminated by her wit, intelligence, and empathy. John Leonard's introduction, marked by his unique prose style and warm appreciation of Didion's voice and accomplishments, should be read after one has sampled the treasures in this collection. A useful chronology matches events in the author's life with historical events and a literary context. Strongly recommended for all public and undergraduate libraries, especially those that do not have all of the works in this anthology. Morris Hounion, New York City Coll. of Technology Lib., CUNY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.