Thursday, October 11, 2012

Slouching Toward Bethlehem

I finished Life of Pi about a week ago. It was interesting. And disturbing. Thus, I decided that yet another break from literary fiction was in order. My mind made up, I immediately purchased three fashion magazines and Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem. I had heard of Joan Didion, but I didn't really know anything about her until I read the recent Atlantic article about her life. Her most current works have been autobiographical—heartbreaking stories of losing her husband and her daughter within the span of two years. Since this was to be my first encounter with Didion, I thought it best to start with her early work.  Slouching Towards Bethlehem is her first book of collected essays, an eclectic snapshot of early 1960s California. I have only read the first three essays thus far and the subject matter has been wonderfully diverse: a true tale of murder, an open love letter to John Wayne and a discussion of Joan Baez's School of Non-Violence. Didion's eloquence is well-documented, but I was still surprised to discover just how vividly I could smell the manicured lawns, how distinctly I could hear the tinkle of ice disintegrating in glass tumblers, and how palpably I could feel the uncomfortable silences of her world. I'm glad to be taking this non-fiction detour, and to finally be discovering Joan Didion's incredible gifts.

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