South and West

South and West

From A Notebook

Book - 2017 | First edition.
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From the best-selling author of the National Book Award-winning The Year of Magical Thinking : two extended excerpts from her never-before-seen notebooks--writings that offer an illuminating glimpse into the mind and process of a legendary writer.

Joan Didion has always kept notebooks: of overheard dialogue, observations, interviews, drafts of essays and articles--and here is one such draft that traces a road trip she took with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, in June 1970, through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. She interviews prominent local figures, describes motels, diners, a deserted reptile farm, a visit with Walker Percy, a ladies' brunch at the Mississippi Broadcasters' Convention. She writes about the stifling heat, the almost viscous pace of life, the sulfurous light, and the preoccupation with race, class, and heritage she finds in the small towns they pass through. And from a different notebook: the "California Notes" that began as an assignment from Rolling Stone on the Patty Hearst trial of 1976. Though Didion never wrote the piece, watching the trial and being in San Francisco triggered thoughts about the city, its social hierarchy, the Hearsts, and her own upbringing in Sacramento. Here, too, is the beginning of her thinking about the West, its landscape, the western women who were heroic for her, and her own lineage, all of which would appear later in her acclaimed 2003 book, Where I Was From.


One of TIME's most anticipated books of 2017

One of The New York Times Book Review's "What You'll Be Reading in 2017"

Incldued among the Best Books of March 2017 by both LitHub and Signature

Publisher: New York, NY : Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781524732790
Branch Call Number: 814.54 Didio
Characteristics: xx, 126 pages ; 19 cm

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gale37
Apr 07, 2018

Not the best work of Didion. A sort of wandering through the south of the USA with no explicit conclusions or descriptions and not very many implicit ones either.

hholley Nov 16, 2017

A quick, thoughtful read in the classic Joan Didion writing style.

i
Indoorcamping
Oct 23, 2017

Takes you back to 1970's Southern life where we were so different and so, wow, not like California in 2017, except maybe that you could see Trump as president in 1970's Mississippi. Really gorgeous description of the cultural landscape, especially toward race, class, customs, traditions, and change that isn't change from the perspective of over forty years. There's nothing better to read than a Joan Didion notebook - it's over before you know it but you feel like you've lived it. And it's better to live it through her writing than through your own experience, especially in 2017.

d
DoctorVine
Apr 27, 2017

Joan Didion's craft is the very best of the latter half of the 20th century.
You will learn something; something important.
A new word or phrase will expand your intellect.
You will also laugh a great deal.
Most writers do not come close.

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