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Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays by Joan…

Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays (1968)

by Joan Didion

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3,063553,023 (4.11)106
The "dazzling" and essential portrayal of 1960s America from the author of South and West and The Year of Magical Thinking (The New York Times). Capturing the tumultuous landscape of the United States, and in particular California, during a pivotal era of social change, the first work of nonfiction from one of American literature's most distinctive prose stylists is a modern classic. In twenty razor-sharp essays that redefined the art of journalism, National Book Award-winning author Joan Didion reports on a society gripped by a deep generational divide, from the "misplaced children" dropping acid in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district to Hollywood legend John Wayne filming his first picture after a bout with cancer. She paints indelible portraits of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes and folk singer Joan Baez, "a personality before she was entirely a person," and takes readers on eye-opening journeys to Death Valley, Hawaii, and Las Vegas, "the most extreme and allegorical of American settlements." First published in 1968, Slouching Towards Bethlehem has been heralded by the New York Times Book Review as "a rare display of some of the best prose written today in this country" and named to Time magazine's list of the one hundred best and most influential nonfiction books. It is the definitive account of a terrifying and transformative decade in American history whose discordant reverberations continue to sound a half-century later.… (more)
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» See also 106 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
I read this over a fairly long period of time so the stories and sentiments relayed within seem to have been blurred by the various contexts in which I read them, an additional filter to that of the hazy nostalgia already present. Honoured to have been gifted this, but I'm not sure I really get what Didion is about. The essays that stuck with me more than the others were On Keeping a Notebook and Goodbye to All That; otherwise, I'm left feeling somewhat distant from the author. "Remember what it is to be me: that is always the point," she writes. Perhaps it will take some time for me to be acquainted with Ms. Didion. ( )
  piquareste | Jun 3, 2020 |
Beautifully written essays from way back in 1967 from a journalist who successfully captured the essence of America as it woke from its idealistic dream into the deep feeling that all was not all right.

Maybe this is old news for today's world, but I can still express my appreciation for one of the best non-fiction writers of the age, exposing sensationalist murders, the seedy underbelly of the Flower Power movement, and the failed idealism of many other movements... and modes of thought not limited to merely people... but the kind tied directly to place.

Hello, America. Take your blinders off. It's time to see the world as it really is. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
  victor.k.jacobsson | May 23, 2020 |
This was a recommendation from Laura and it was not only a captivating collection of essays, but also provided great insight in my gf's taste in writing/journalism. It's good!

Didion's lyrical and mysterious prose is highly engaging - it does not wait for you to catch up and requires careful reading to extract all the imagery she's packing in. My favorite essays were "Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream", "On Going Home" and "Los Angeles Notebook." The were mysterious, funny and cutting at different turns. I will read more Didion. ( )
  Cail_Judy | Apr 21, 2020 |
Writing felt predatory and hyper-conscious, rather than revelatory.

Joan Didion tried too hard to pretend not to be judging, leaving readers
to come to their own conclusions based on her scanty information.

The horror of no one protecting the little kids on drugs makes the whole scene a nightmare. ( )
  m.belljackson | Jan 29, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
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W. B. Yeats's poem beginning:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

...is set down in full, as well as a quote from Miss Peggy Lee:

I learned courage from Buddah, Jesus, Lincoln, Einstein, and Cary Grant.
For Quintana
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This is a story about love and death in the golden land, and begins with the country.
To have that sense of one's intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference.
It is often said that New York City is a city for only the very rich and the very poor. It is less often said that New York is also, at least for those of us who came there from somewhere else, a city for only the very young.
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