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Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays (FSG Classics) Paperback – October 28, 2008
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"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 naive 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."
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Top Customer Reviews
What makes her writing most impressive is her masterful presentation of portraits, inserting herself just occasionally to remind the reader of who the photographer was, to inject humanity. She does an excellent job combining place and character and shows that long sentences can work. This book is useful both an as example to those who aspire to writing better essays and as a memorable voice from the 1960s.
The purport of this book is something that I can so easily identify with: the disappearance of the past for the establishment of a fragmented, roughly organized new society with newfangled, unaccustomed societal perceptions as well as an aggressive casting off of the traditional value system of those who were born and raised a long time before the emergence of the radical, cataclysmic sixties. These essays explore, through author Joan Didion's own feelings and experiences and the feelings and experiences of those she encountered, the disharmononized emotions of the hippy generation vs the elders of the more reactionary periods, periods where: Free Love, Acid Trips, Groovy, Crystal Snorting Gurus and Muumuu Dressed Followers seemed a complex and social oddity in the hierarchy of those who were deemed, "Not with it, man."
What is so nice about these essays is that they are not condescending; there were and are thousands upon thousands of citizens and non-citizens alike who had and have no clue whatsoever as to what the counter-culture represented (me, honestly, being one in that vast catagory).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Joan Didion is a gifted writer. With words she can create a setting, a character, time, place. Not just facts needed to push along a plot but a word picture. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Denise Dunbar
Probably one of the best books I have ever read. I had been meaning to pick it up for a while, and finally got around to it when I needed a good beach read. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Didion's writing is fascinating. She loves run on sentences, but who cares because she makes it work. I am not a non-fiction reader, but this book is an exception. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Evelyn Almeyda