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The first nonfiction work by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our era,Slouching Towards Bethlehemremains, forty years after its first publication, the essential portrait of America particularly Californiain the sixties. It focuses on such subjects as John Wayne and Howard Hughes, growing up a girl in California, ruminating on the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room, and, especially, the essence of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, the heart of the counterculture. Joan Didionis the author of several novels and works of nonfiction, includingSlouching Towards Bethlehem, The White Album, Miami, Salvador, After Henry, andThe Year of Magical Thinking. She lives in New York City. Universally acclaimed when it was first published in 1968,Slouching Towards Bethlehemhas become a modern classic. More than any other book of its time, this collection captures the mood of 1960s America, especially the center of its counterculture, California. These essayskeynoted by an extraordinary report on San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury districtall reflect how and why things were then, and are now, falling apart in America: "the center cannot hold," as Yeats had warned. An incisive look at contemporary life,Slouching Towards Bethlehemis still admired as a stylistic masterpiece. "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," as Joyce Carol Oates noted. "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." "A slant vision that is arresting and unique . . . Didion might be an observer from another planetone so edgy and alert that she ends up knowing more about our own world than we know ourselves."Anne Tyler "In her portraits of people, 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 rich display of some of the best prose written today in this country."Dan Wakefield,The New York Times Book Review "The story between the lines ofSlouching Towards Bethlehemis surely not so much 'California' as it is [Joan Didion's] ability to make us share her passionate sense of it."Alfred Kazin "A slant vision that is arresting and unique . . . Didion might be an observer from another planetone so edgy and alert that she ends up knowing more about our own world than we know ourselves."Anne Tyler Contents: I. LIFE STYLES IN THE GOLDEN LAND Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream John Wayne: A Love Song Where the Kissing Never Stops Comrade Laski, C.P.U.S.A. (M.-L.) 7000 Romaine, Los Angeles 38 California Dreaming Marrying Absurd Slouching Towards Bethlehem II. PERSONALS On Keeping a Notebook On Self-Respect I Can't Get That Monster Out of My Mind On Morality On Going Home III. SEVEN PLACES OF THE MIND Notes from a Native Daughter Letter from Paradise, 21 19' N., 157 52' W Rock of Ages The Seacoast of Despair Guaymas, Sonora Los Angeles Notebook Goodbye to All That
Joan Didion's many books include The Year of Magical Thinking, for which she received the National Book Award. She lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
"In her portraits of people, 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 rich display of some of the best prose written today in this country."--Dan Wakefield, The New York Times Book Review