Library Journal Review
This is a slim selection of excerpts from notebooks kept by Didion during a trip she and her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, took through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in 1970 and on a never-completed assignment from Rolling Stone to cover the Patty Hearst trial in San Francisco in 1976. Perhaps two-thirds of the audio-book chronicle the Southern swing, with Didion's sometimes bemused often horrified observations of a South that seemed to have little changed or be interested in doing so. It includes an instance when Didion, a stranger without a wedding ring, must seek medical care in a small town; dialog with characters Didion meets in motels and diners; and her failed attempt to find the grave of William Faulkner in Oxford, MS. The few chapters on the "West" have Didion reflecting on being a woman born and raised in California, where people are resolutely always pushing forward. Kimberly Farr delivers the text in tone and emphasis we imagine the author would have used at dinner tables in San Francisco and New York. VERDICT Fans of Didion will enjoy the trenchant observations, the lovely turns of phrase, and the characteristic self-examination. ["This is important reading for today, but it is essential reading for the future": LJ 5/1/17 starred review of the Knopf hc.]-Anne M. Condon, West Hartford, CT © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Even in raw form, Didion's (Blue Nights) voice surpasses other writers' in "elegance and clarity," Nathaniel Rich astutely observes in his introduction to Didion's notebooks from her 1970 trip to Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi and much shorter 1976 musings about her California youth. Didion's notes display her characteristic verbal power: details such as "bananas would rot, and harbor tarantulas" (about New Orleans weather) punctuate this short volume. Moreover, Didion reveals remarkable foresight about America's political direction: Rich traces a direct line from her nearly 50-year-old musings on the Gulf Coast as America's "psychic center" to the Trump election. But most strikingly, Didion's observations reveal differences with today, such as a degree of civility now often missing from public discourse. In one dinner exchange, for example, a wealthy white Mississippian gripes about busing, yet says, "Basically I know the people who are pushing it are right." Students of social history, fans of Didion, and those seeking a quick, engaging read will appreciate this work: the raw immediacy of unedited prose by a master has an urgency that more polished works often lack. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.