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South and West: From a Notebook Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 7, 2017
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“South and West is a compelling book — rooted utterly in a past now all but lost to us, while also incredibly timely and relevant...[it] bears the hallmarks of Didion’s sparkling prose: her use of detail, juxtaposition, and compression...sentence fragment, description, and insight...Originally written in the 1970s as a pair of diaries, it finally sees the light of day at a moment when California and the Real America of the South are warring over the soul of the country.... South and West is vital, ultimately, for how it demonstrates (even inadvertently) how such a tension plays out.”
—Colin Dickey, The Los Angeles Review of Books
“You'll learn more about America's future from Didion's 40-year-old field notes...than you will from tomorrow's newspaper.”
“South and West: From a Notebook reveals the author at her most fascinatingly unfiltered, recording folksy vernacular at a motel pool, having G & Ts with Walker Percy, and searching fruitlessly for Faulkner’s grave in an Oxford cemetery…her riffs on everything from Gertrude Atherton to crossing the Golden Gate bridge for the first time in three-inch heels captures the thrill of a writer discovering her richest subject: the American mythologies that governed her own romantic girlhood, a yearning for an MGM-style heritage that never really was—a yearning that feels freshly perilous in its delusions.”
—Megan O’Grady, Vogue
“There’s a universal rule against reading someone else’s diary—but in this case, it’s not just OK, it’s required reading.”
“The power of [Didion’s] work—her ability to precisely articulate feelings, atmosphere, and undercurrents, [is] on striking display in this slender volume…Didion’s notes are remarkably polished and slicing in their response to place, conversations overheard and instigated, perceptions of social attitudes, and detection of hypocrisy, irony, and injustice; they shimmer with dark implications. A book for her many avid readers, and anyone interested in the mysterious process of writing.”
“Here are many of the splendid, sharp-eyed sentences for which [Didion] has long been admired…her observations are classics: a man with a shotgun shooting pigeons on a street in a Mississippi town; a comment about the fierce heat: ‘all movement seemed liquid.’ An almost spectral text haunted by a past that never seems distant.”
About the Author
JOAN DIDION is the author of five novels and nine books of nonfiction, including The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights. Her collected nonfiction, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, was published by Everyman's Library in 2006. Born in Sacramento, California, Didion now lives in New York City.
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