We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live
By Joan Didion
(Everyman's Library, Hardcover, 9780307264879, 1160pp.)
Publication Date: October 17, 2006
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(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
Joan Didion’s incomparable and distinctive essays and journalism are admired for their acute, incisive observations and their spare, elegant style. Now the seven books of nonfiction that appeared between 1968 and 2003 have been brought together into one thrilling collection.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem captures the counterculture of the sixties, its mood and lifestyle, as symbolized by California, Joan Baez, Haight-Ashbury. The White Album covers the revolutionary politics and the “contemporary wasteland” of the late sixties and early seventies, in pieces on the Manson family, the Black Panthers, and Hollywood. Salvador is a riveting look at the social and political landscape of civil war. Miami exposes the secret role this largely Latin city played in the Cold War, from the Bay of Pigs through Watergate. In After Henry Didion reports on the Reagans, Patty Hearst, and the Central Park jogger case. The eight essays in Political Fictions–on censorship in the media, Gingrich, Clinton, Starr, and “compassionate conservatism,” among others–show us how we got to the political scene of today. And in Where I Was From Didion shows that California was never the land of the golden dream.
Joan Didion was born in California and lives in New York City. She is the author of five novels and seven previous books of nonfiction.
“[Didion’s is] one of the most recognizable—and brilliant—literary styles to emerge in America during the past four decades . . . [She is] a great American writer.”
—New York Times Book Review
“One beautiful sentence follows another . . . Didion has remained a clearheaded and original writer all her long life.”
“Her intelligence is as honed as ever . . . Her vision is ice-water clear . . . Didion has captured the mood of America.”
—New York Times
“Many of us have tried, and failed, to master [Didion’s] gift for the single ordinary deflating word, the word that spins an otherwise flat sentence through five degrees of irony. But her sentences could only be hers.”
“I have been trying forever to figure out why [Didion’s] sentences are better than mine or yours . . . Something about [their] cadence. They come at you, if not from ambush, then in gnomic haikus, ice pick laser beams, or waves. Even the space on the page around these sentences is more interesting than it ought to be, as if to square a sandbox for a Sphinx.”
—from the Introduction by John Leonard