The travel by car was onerous, and Didion tells us she had to avoid cities with airports because she would immediately book a ticket out. It was a struggle, this trip, and one evening they stopped late for dinner: "The sun was still blazing on the pavement outside. The food seemed to have been deep-fried for the lunch business and kept lukewarm on the steam table. Eating is an ordeal, as in an institution, something to be endured in the interests of survival. We return to California and it is here that Didion's intimacy with us becomes the story.
She tells us of her upbringing and we see where she gets her sense of confidence and superiority. Didion thinks people make too much and too little, both, of their effect on, say, the South, or the West. She takes the long view now, musing that we all seem so inconsequential except when we are not. View all 9 comments.
Mar 08, Ammar rated it really liked it Shelves: female-authors , read-in Joan offers the reader an intimate look at her writing process. Anyone who read Didion would be aware of her personal life, her upbringing, her essays and how she wrote about the loss of a husband and her daughter in her last two non fiction works.
South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion review – back to the future of the US
Here we are in the 70s in the South New Orleans.. And reading Joan offers the reader an intimate look at her writing process. And reading it in still makes those vignettes and snippets reflective of the American consciousness or unconsciousness at the same time.
This book is intimate and unstructured As its subtitle implies, South and West is culled from notebooks Joan Didion kept in the s. It consists of two essays: "California Notes" is a brief, slight piece that apparently became the basis for her book Where I Was From ; "Notes on the South" is a much longer, more substantial one about a road trip she and her husband took through the deep south, mostly the gulf coast area, in In an introduction to this book written in December , novelist Nathaniel Rich claims "Notes on the So As its subtitle implies, South and West is culled from notebooks Joan Didion kept in the s.
In an introduction to this book written in December , novelist Nathaniel Rich claims "Notes on the South" is relevant to understanding the south of today, i. I was skeptical of this assertion. I mean, of course someone had to say something like that about South and West ; how else would the publisher justify publishing notes from nearly 50 years ago? Happily, though, Rich's claim actually turned out to be true. The relevance of some of these insights to the present day was evident, impressive, and enlightening.
Beyond that, South and West is worth reading simply because, even though it's somewhat rougher than Didion's other books, her considerable talents make it a joy to read. Didion and her husband are just passing through the south, but her reporting works because she's not attempting to speak for anyone who lives there: She's an outsider, and she writes as an outsider.
She employs a high level of detail, but it's always in the service of a broader view; she doesn't make the mistake of thinking small details, in and of themselves, tell the whole story. She also lets many southerners speak for themselves—she's clearly gained their trust, and she doesn't exploit it.
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By my calculation Didion was 35 when she wrote "Notes from the South"; it's the work of a mature writer of the sort we may never see again at that age. As I mentioned in one of my status updates, I began this book thinking of it as a lesser Didion work, and in the sense that its publication is more recent and it hasn't yet gained classic status, that's true. The writing, though, is absolutely at the level of her well-known collections Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album.
It has to be said, her publisher did a good job putting this book together. Joan Didion's name on the cover would have moved copies no matter what was inside, but the sharp focus, vivid detail, and relevance of "Notes on the South" make South and West an essential addition to her canon. View all 7 comments.
digitalcannoli.com/negyp-spyware-for-mobile.php Aug 20, Maxwell rated it really liked it. In the South they are convinced that they have bloodied their place with history. In the West we do not believe that anything we do can bloody the land, or change it, or touch it. Joan Didion could only write about California and I'd read it all. I'm obviously biased as someone who has spent his whole life in the Golden State, but she understands it so deeply and writes about it so well. Sadly most of this is actually about Louisiana and Mississippi, but not sadly really because it's so good. S In the South they are convinced that they have bloodied their place with history.
She's incredibly observant, and her economy of language is masterful. She doesn't over-describe or over-explain her experiences, surroundings, etc.
She says exactly what she needs to say in the fewest words possible. It's quite impressive and shows why she's such a revered author. I really need to read more of her work!
View all 3 comments. May 13, Dianne rated it really liked it Shelves: best-of Think of this as a literary sketchbook, full of jotted down conversation scraps, impressions, memories and thoughts. Most of the book is Didion's reflections on the South circa The smaller portion of the book deals with California around the time of the Patty Hearst trial. I loved the section devoted to the South; not so much the West.
No one writes like Didion - her prose is so pure and crisp, her observations so keen and precise. Didion's tone is always cool, almost clinical, but she cuts Think of this as a literary sketchbook, full of jotted down conversation scraps, impressions, memories and thoughts.
Didion's tone is always cool, almost clinical, but she cuts straight to the heart of what she is examining and holds it forth for us to observe, stripped to the bone and bare of artifice. I love her, always have.
This book is probably for Didion fans only, though - it's a slim volume of dated bits 'n pieces that will likely only give pleasure to those who rejoice in her extraordinary acuity and the beauty of the written word. View all 6 comments. Mar 11, Bryant rated it really liked it. Nothing makes me want to write more than reading Joan Didion. View 1 comment. Apr 01, Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: everyone, of course. How could I forget how perfectly Joan Didion could craft a sentence, capturing every nuance, every irony, even what was unsaid? Although the pieces in South and West never became published essays, the same quality remains.
And I see why it is now that these notes for pieces that never got published finally saw the light now in the wake of the election. Because, in fact, Didion, the eternal pessimist, knew what we did not. That nothing has really changed since she and her husband John Gregory Dunn How could I forget how perfectly Joan Didion could craft a sentence, capturing every nuance, every irony, even what was unsaid? That nothing has really changed since she and her husband John Gregory Dunne motored through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in A fervent belief — all evidence to the contrary — that low taxes and low wages are the key to economic prosperity, despite the poverty, poor education, substandard infrastructure, and low quality of life that ensues.
The only difference seems to be that Mississippi has spread to other states. This one was short and it was written by Joan Didion, so it was an easy pick. I love the way Didion writes, but this book isn't very good. The tone is rather condescending and it's just not all that interesting. May 01, Cheryl rated it liked it Shelves: literary-essays , non-fiction , fav-authors. It was a thunderstorm, with odd light, and there were occasional water-skiers on the black bayou water.
As is customarily her style, Didion recorded bits and pieces that reveal lifestyle and cultural landscape. She spent a month, in the summer of , traveling through the American South having conversations with notable Southerners and taking notes of small town life and habits.
One month isn't really enough to gage the befuddling complications of the South, particularly the Deep South, and this could be why, I would humbly opine, she never did complete a piece. Until now. Neither she nor the girl nor the two men spoke during the time we were there.
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The jukebox played "Sweet Caroline. When we went back out into the blazing heat one of the men followed us and watched as we drove away. There are some things about a place that can be shocking, debilitating, depressing, and when one discovers those things directed at oneself, they have the potential to damage one's view of place and people. There are moments in this collection when such things, often through long quotes of conversations, are revealed.
It occurred to me almost constantly in the South that had I lived there I would have been an eccentric and full of anger, and I wondered what form the anger would have taken. Would I have taken up causes, or would I have simply knifed someone? The reader can always count on Didion's boldness as relates to her innermost thoughts of herself, or observation of others. One may not find the interested engagement and structured style one may have encountered in Slouching Towards Bethlehem , or the contemplative meditation of Blue Nights , but what one could possibly encounter in this collection is unflinching honesty written in a way that unveils a piece of the American fabric, in as much as it also reveals a writer's disappointment.
I included the first quote at the beginning because despite the immensely disturbing things about attitudes and notions that are rooted in the psyche of some Southern habits, there are also profoundly beautiful things about the South, its culture, and its landscape. Perhaps I wish more of these things had been included in the notes and observations, and yet, just as I've sensed the mood of these notes, perhaps I've also sensed why she could not.
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Apr 04, Michael rated it it was ok Shelves: Counterintuitively, Didion's lucid prose and her book's impressionistic structure synergize exceptionally well, making for a hazy reading experience that almost obscures South and West's total lack of purpose or argument. View 2 comments.
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