(PDF) [South and West] è Joan Didion
E leather handbag carried expressly for that purpose The childhood of a young white boy in the South may be the best childhood in the world she imagines The house of one family had a slave certificate still hanging on the wall and servants that dated back a generation Everyone seemed sure of where they stood on the race uestion and stated it openly The order to integrate schools immediately 80% black 20% white came in February why didn t they wait until September when a little time might have gotten some folks to go along a local white man with school aged kids opined I can t sacrifice my kids to idealism he concludesDidion and her husband sought the gravesite of William Faulkner in Oxford Mississippi but found only a young black man leaning against a two tone sedan in the heat waiting for customers selling marijuana perhaps It was too hot to think too much about it They never found the grave but the graveyard feel of the South pervaded her writing nonetheless Death is a feature of the South It feels close as does rot and subsidence And yet the South holds a history slavery which will not die no matter how we wish it would The University of Mississippi is in Oxford with that
elusive gravesite of Faulkner s The university library carries only textbooks a few bestsellers and Faulkner novels Didion gravesite of Faulkner s The university library carries only textbooks a few bestsellers and Faulkner novels Didion her visit thereI saw a black girl on the campus She was wearing an Afro and a clinging ersey and was uite beautiful with a NYLA coastal arrogance I could not think what she was doing at Ol Miss or what she thought about it One cannot help think that the piece would have been infinitely improved if she had roused herself enough to ask the girl that uestion All through this book she never crossed the color barrier once except to be introduced to the maid or gardener of a white homeownerFireflies heat lightning heavy vines and soggy ground fainting heat water that smells of fish vacant expressions algae covered ditches fast melting ice The South is present everywhere in her words in the barely stirring observations she makes from a sitting position But the 1970s South is evoked as surely as the 1950s and 1960s South Things change only incrementally imperceptibly The travel by car was onerous and Didion tells us she had to avoid cities with airports because she would immediately book a ticket out It was a struggle this trip and one evening they stopped late for dinner The sun was still blazing on the pavement outside The food seemed to have been deep fried for the lunch business and kept lukewarm on the steam table Eating is an ordeal as in an institution something to be endured in the interests of survivalThe point of view is distant and unconvinced when a dinner host says something about how the blacks would return to the delta if there were Nini jobs any because this is a place with a strong pull Didion sudgment is as clear as a torch in a muggy dark night We return to California and it is here that Didion s intimacy with us becomes the story She tells us of her upbringing and we see where she gets her sense of confidence and superiority She d never had anything blocking her way in the peculiar vacuum of her childhood She d come from an affluent family and only saw in hindsight her extraordinary luck in a world that offers most people little certainty She d been rewarded out of proportion to her scholarship but she remembers only her failures Looking back sometimes she does not feel up to the landscape She tries to place herself place us
In HistoryThe Sentences In historyThe "Sentences In Book Are "in book are remarkable evocation of place even if she never wrote the piece and her notes on her upbringing at the end are scattershot gorgeous real thoughtful meaningful relatable full of atmosphere and intimacy Kimberly Farr narrated this collection of notes and her uiet sophistication is uite up to the task of looking askance at the deep rooted and culturally ueer habits of the South and at the naivet of Didion s upbringing in California Didion thinks people make too much and too little both of their effect on say the South or the West She takes the long view now musing that we all seem so inconseuential except when we are no. As an assignment from Rolling Stone on the Patty Hearst trial of 1976 Though Didion never wrote the piece watching the trial and being in San Francisco triggered thoughts about the city its social hierarchy the Hearsts and her own upbringing in Sacramento Here too is the beginning of her thinking about the West its landscape the western women who were heroic for her and her own lineage all of which would appear later in her acclaimed 2003 book Where I Was Fro.
Gifted most skilled writers of her timeDespite no precisely because of all "that I can t in good faith say that South and West "I can t in good faith say that South and West a good book or even that it necessarily is a book and I am absolutely perplexed by the decision made by whom and with what motivation and with what degree of awareness are ust some of the uestions I have to publish it The book again if that is really what one can call it and I m not sure it is is roughly 90% Joan Didion goes to the South and is haughty and not in the semi charming way she can often be haughty The other 10% the West section feels somewhat positioned as a response to the feelings she expressed in the South chapter like the fact say that she did not want to visit Eudora Welty because Eudora Welty lived in a town with an airport and if she got within a short drive of an airport she would surely board the next flight to the Chateau Marmont which is less a paraphrase than one would hope but it too feels mystifyingly disordered and thinThere are many good sentences A few memorable moments Absolutely no reason for its existence How could I forget how perfectly Joan Didion could craft a sentence capturing every nuance every irony even what was unsaid Although the pieces in South and West never became published essays the same uality remains And I see why it is now that these notes for pieces that never got published finally saw the light now in the wake of the electionBecause in fact Didion the eternal pessimist knew what we did not That nothing has really changed since she and her husband John Gregory Dunne motored through Louisiana Mississippi and Alabama in 1970 Then when the Mississippi Highway Patrol reacted to student protests at Jackson State University by killing two black students the white power structure embraced the police and blamed the students who were un American the thug being understood Forty years later video footage of police shooting unarmed suspects in the back aren t enough to change the narrative in the slightest A system where the plantation class installs the political class pretends that we ve come so far and that blacks have every opportunity that their own privately educated children have that hasn t changed either A fervent belief all evidence to the
contrary that low taxes and low wages are the key to economicthat low taxes and low wages are the key to economic despite the poverty poor education substandard infrastructure and low uality of life that ensuesThe only difference seems to be that Mississippi has spread to other states Think of this as a literary sketchbook full of otted down conversation scraps impressions memories and thoughts Most of the book is Didion s reflections on the South circa 1970 The smaller portion of the book deals with California around the time of the Patty Hearst trial I loved the section devoted to the South not so much the WestNo one writes like Didion her prose is so pure and crisp her observations so keen and precise Didion s tone is always cool almost clinical but she cuts straight to the heart of what she is examining and holds it forth for us to observe stripped to the bone and bare of artifice I love her always haveThis book is probably for Didion fans only though it s a slim volume of dated bits n pieces that will likely only give pleasure to those who rejoice in her extraordinary acuity and the beauty of the written word Joan Didion s notebook of her drive across Louisiana and Mississippi with her husband in the summer of 1970 is filled with glimpses and impressions of the blazing heat canopies of kudzu a sense of disintegration and insularity Didion interviewed friends of friends and folks who knew about important local happenings but she had a hard time gathering the ambition to follow through with attending events in the muggy heat She made notes but the aimless drift through a South she knew was important somehow never fanned into flameuntil now Her instincts were right The South tethers us still to a past we
cannot escape didionescape Didion experience of the South is that of confederate flag beach towels at the motel pool debutante dresses and plans for dinner out with local literati illegal bottles of liuor smuggled in a larg. 0 through Louisiana Mississippi and Alabama She interviews prominent local figures describes motels diners a deserted reptile farm a visit with Walker Percy a ladies' brunch at the Mississippi Broadcasters' Convention She writes about the stifling heat the almost viscous pace of life the sulfurous light and the preoccupation with race class and heritage she finds in the small towns they pass through And from a different notebook the California Notes that began.
review æ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook Ñ Joan DidionI picked this one up because I m doing Book Riot s Read Harder Challenge and needed a travel memoir This one was short and it was written by Joan Didion so it was an easy pick I love the way Didion writes but this book isn t very good The tone is rather condescending and it s ust not all that interesting In the South they are convinced that they have bloodied their place with history In the West we do not believe that anything we do can bloody the land or change it or touch it Joan Didion could only write about California and I d read it all I m obviously biased as someone who has spent his whole life in the Golden State but she understands it so deeply and writes about it so well Sadly most of this is actually about Louisiana and Mississippi but not sadly really because it s so good She s incredibly observant and her economy of language is masterful She doesn t over describe or over explain her experiences surroundings etc She says exactly what she needs to say in the fewest words possible It s uite impressive and shows why she s such a revered author I really need to read of her work Joan offers the reader an intimate look at her writing process Anyone who read Didion would be aware of her personal life her upbringing her essays and how she wrote about the loss of a husband and her daughter in her last two non fiction works Here we are in the 70s in the South New Orleans the past the glimpse of conversations in elevators the state of various swimming pools in hotels the process of writing in a notebook The west the look toward the future And reading it in 2017 still makes those vignettes and snippets reflective of
the American consciousness or unconsciousness at the same time This book is intimate and unstructured it s free inAmerican consciousness or unconsciousness at the same time This book is intimate and unstructured it s free in and leaves an everlasting impression I owe this book a longer review because I struggled mightily with South and West 2017 Fourfalse starts it took me to finish a book of mere 126 pages I m not from the Nothing makes me want to write than reading Joan Didion As its subtitle implies South and West is culled from notebooks Joan Didion kept in the 1970s It consists of two essays California Notes is a brief slight piece that apparently became the basis for her book Where I Was From Notes on the South is a much longer substantial one about a road trip she and her husband took through the deep south mostly the gulf coast area in 1970 In an introduction to this book written in December 2016 novelist Nathaniel Rich claims Notes on the South is relevant to understanding the south of today ie the south that would elect Donald Trump as president I was skeptical of this assertion I mean of course someone had to say something like that about South and West how else would the publisher ustify publishing notes from nearly 50 years ago Happily though Rich s claim actually turned out to be true Notes on the South offers numerous insights on the mindset of the south as it attempted to reconcile its embrace of tradition with its need for progress The relevance of some of these insights to the present day was evident impressive and enlighteningBeyond that South and West is worth reading simply because even though it s somewhat rougher than Didion s other *Books Her Considerable Talents Make * her considerable talents make a oy to read Didion and her husband are ust passing through the south but her reporting works because she s not attempting to speak for anyone who lives there She s an outsider and she writes as an outsider She employs a high level of detail but it s always in the service of a broader view she doesn t make the mistake of thinking small details in I love Joan DidionOn any given day Play it as it Lays fights for a spot in my top three favorite novels of all time alongside Renata Adler s Pitch Dark Mary Robison s Why Did I Ever and Joy Williams s State of Grace I can make have made a convincing argument that the opening paragraph of Slouching Towards Bethlehem is probably the very best opening paragraph in all of creative nonfictionI think and I am not alone in this certainly that her body of work cements her as one of the most important and one would like to add most brilliant most. From the best selling author of the National Book Award winning The Year of Magical Thinking two extended excerpts from her never before seen notebooks writings that offer an illuminating glimpse into the mind and process of a legendary writerJoan Didion has always kept notebooks of overheard dialogue observations interviews drafts of essays and articles and here is one such draft that traces a road trip she took with her husband John Gregory Dunne in June 197.