Where I Was From

3.88
In her moving and insightful new book, Joan Didion reassesses parts of her life, her work, her history and ours. A native Californian, Didion applies her scalpel-like intelligence to the state ’ s ethic of ruthless self-sufficiency in order to examine that ethic ’ s often tenuous relationship to reality.

Combining history and reportage, memoir and literary criticism, Where I Was From explores California ’ s romanc with land and water; its unacknowledged debts to railroads, aerospace, and big government; the disjunction between its code of individualism and its fetish for prisons. Whether she is writing about her pioneer ancestors or privileged sexual predators, robber barons or writers ( not excluding herself), Didion is an unparalleled observer, and her ook is at once intellectually provocative and deeply personal.
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Year of the Publication
Publication Date
Published September 14th 2004 by Vintage (first published September 2003
Original Title of the Book
Where I Was From
Number of Pages
240

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gave it

I reject the idea that her earlier stuff is somehow stronger: here and in The ear Of Magical Thinking her prose is contemplative and introspective, but also muscular, the way ballet can be.I love Joan Didion.

In this work, she begins to bind together what it means to live in California: without agenda, standing clear of all attachments her life has offered.

gave it

Joan Didion strikes me as being one of the smartest writers in America, with a firm but quiet authority that makes me trust her absolutely.

To see this carried on to the Golden Gate was a bit depressing – in fact, by the time we had “ expanded ” to California, the federal apparatus had become very sophisticated and prevalent in a way that dwarfs the knee-britches and coonskin cap crudities of Indiana settlement.

One of my avorite momen in this autobiography was when one of my favorite military historians, Victor Davis Hansen, a Californian like Didion, and like Didion the product of wealthy pioneer ranch-owning stock, came under Didion ’ s pitiless gaze.

California is and pretty much always has been a heavily subsidized, self-satisfied and self-delusional product of a whole bunch of Federal interference -- dam-building and corporate gimmees ( first the railroads, then military-avionics, crop subsidies, etc.).

I mean to read ore of Didion ’ s work…my only ( wildly unfair) complaint about her is that she often writes about stuff I don ’ t give a tinker ’ s damn about ( California, for instance – although she made me interested finally.

gave it

Joan Didion discusses her family and their migration to California.

gave it

Joan Didion could write a novel about plastic bags and I 'd still read it, and still probably like it.

gave it

Tell me Joan Didion did n't write a whole ook about the underbelly of the California dream and leave out the injustices done to people of olor.

She is also correct in pointing out that CA is one of the more dependant states on federal funding in the nation, and has been from the start.

All her stories ( or at least half of them) are told from the trite viewpoint of wealthy white men and women.

I knew the minute she started this historical account without a mention of the resident and land that came before the white " settlers " that we were in for a one way perspective ride.

gave it

Feels a bit cobbled together, but I 'm probably just being picky and petty.In a 4-part book Didion explores the history and narrative of California, and like she is afraid to do, she kinda clears the table of myths, fables, and story that people have constructed around place/time.

gave it

( The grandparents settled this west for what reason, at what cost, to establish what kind of culture?) And when she 's funny she makes me smile all day: A Thomas Kinkade painting was typically rendered in slightly surreal pastels.

gave it

The autobiograph is well-researched and accounts of the media coverage of the " Spur Posse " and the number of prisons and insane asyllums in the state ( that the penal system frequently received more funds than public schools!) are shocking and disturbing.

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