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South and West: From a Notebook

Joan Didion. Nathaniel Rich, foreword.
Publisher Knopf  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 7.5 x 4.9 x 0.75 inches
ISBN 9781524732790
Pages/Publication Date 126/2017
Daedalus Item Code 79259
List Price: $21.00
Sale Price: $12.95
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In her first new book of nonfiction since the elegiac memoir Blue Nights, National Book Award winner Joan Didion takes us back to 1970, when she and her husband John Gregory Dunne went on a month-long sojourn in the South that began in New Orleans. Though the idea she'd had about writing a piece on life in the South never came about, her richly detailed notes evoke 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. Didion interviews prominent local figures and describes motels, diners, a deserted reptile farm, a visit with Walker Percy, and a ladies' brunch at the Mississippi Broadcasters' Convention. And she begins to suspect, as Nathaniel Rich explains in his foreword, that the dichotomies of the South, awash in its own history, offer a more realistic reflection of America's true nature than does the forward-looking optimism of her native California. In other notes, from 1976, Didion covers the Patty Hearst trial in San Francisco for Rolling Stone, and although that piece also failed to materialize for her, she considers the city, its social hierarchy, the Hearsts, and her own upbringing in Sacramento. Her thinking about the West, its landscape, the western women who were heroic for her, and her own lineage, would later appear in her 2003 book Where I Was From.
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Collected Nonfiction, Vol. 1: Selections from the Autobiography, Letters, Essays, and Speeches
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