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Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

By Pamelascott

Upon its publication in 1968, Slouching Towards Bethlehem confirmed Joan Didion as one of the most prominent writers on the literary scene. Her unblinking vision and deadpan tone have influenced subsequent generations of reporters and essayists, changing our expectations of style, voice, and the artistic possibilities of nonfiction.

"In her portraits of people," The New York Times Book Review wrote, "Didion is not out to expose but to understand, and she shows us actors and millionaires, doomed brides and naïve acid-trippers, left-wing ideologues and snobs of the Hawaiian aristocracy in a way that makes them neither villainous nor glamorous, but alive and botched and often mournfully beautiful. . . . A rare display of some of the best prose written today in this country."

In essay after essay, Didion captures the dislocation of the 1960s, the disorientation of a country shredding itself apart with social change. Her essays not only describe the subject at hand-the murderous housewife, the little girl trailing the rock group, the millionaire bunkered in his mansion-but also offer a broader vision of America, one that is both terrifying and tender, ominous and uniquely her own.

Joyce Carol Oates has written, "Joan Didion is one of the very few writers of our time who approaches her terrible subject with absolute seriousness, with fear and humility and awe. Her powerful irony is often sorrowful rather than clever. . . . She has been an articulate witness to the most stubborn and intractable truths of our time, a memorable voice, partly eulogistic, partly despairing; always in control."


[This is a story about love and death in the golden land, and begins with the country - SOME DREAMERS OF THE GOLDEN DREAM)

(Open Road Media, 21 March 2017, first published 1968, 256 pages, ebook, borrowed from @AmazonKindle via #PrimeReading)



I'd heard of Joan Didion before but never read any of her work. I loved the title of this collection of essays and decided to give her a whirl. I'm so glad I did because I've discovered an exciting new author. For the most part, I was hardly aware I was reading an essay, a piece of non-fiction. The essays are written in a style that could easily pass for fiction. I enjoyed every essay in this collection. The collection is split into three sections, Life Styles in the Golden Land, Personals and Seven Places of the Mind. The essays in the first two sections were my favourite and the best pieces were Some Dreamers of the Golden Land, Where the Kissing Never Stops, On Keeping a Notebook and I Can't Get That Monster Out Of My Head. I have borrowed another book of Didion's essays, The White Album which I look forward to reading.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem Joan Didion

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