Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

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Upon its publication in 1968, Slouching Towards Bethlehem confirmed Joan Didion as one of the most prominent writers on the literary scene. Her unblinking vision and deadpan tone have influenced subsequent generations of reporters and essayists, changing our expectations of style, voice, and the artistic possibilities of nonfiction.
"In her portraits of people," The New York Times Book Review wrote, "Didion is not out to expose but to understand, and she shows us actors and millionaires, doomed brides and naïve acid-trippers, left-wing ideologues and snobs of the Hawaiian aristocracy in a way that makes them neither villainous nor glamorous, but alive and botched and often mournfully beautiful. . . . A rare display of some of the best prose written today in this country."
In essay after essay, Didion captures the dislocation of the 1960s, the disorientation of a country shredding itself apart with social change. Her essays not only describe the subject at hand--the murderous housewife, the little girl trailing the rock group, the millionaire bunkered in his mansion--but also offer a broader vision of America, one that is both terrifying and tender, ominous and uniquely her own.
Joyce Carol Oates has written, "Joan Didion is one of the very few writers of our time who approaches her terrible subject with absolute seriousness, with fear and humility and awe. Her powerful irony is often sorrowful rather than clever. . . . She has been an articulate witness to the most stubborn and intractable truths of our time, a memorable voice, partly eulogistic, partly despairing; always in control."

About Joan Didion

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Born in Sacramento, California, on December 5, 1934, Joan Didion received a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1956. Joan Didion wrote for Vogue from 1956 to 1963, and was visiting regent's lecturer in English at the University of California, Berkeley in 1976. Didion also publishes novels, short stories, social commentary, and essays. Her work often comments on social disorder. Didion wrote for years on her native California; from there her perspective broadened and turned to the countries of Central America and Southeast Asia. Her novels include Democracy (1984) and The Last Thing He Wanted (1996). Well known nonfiction titles include Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968) and The White Album (1979). In 1971 Joan Didion was nominated for the National Book Award in fiction for Play It As It Lays. In 1981 she received the American Book Award in nonfiction, and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Prize in nonfiction for The White Album.
Published October 28, 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 256 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences, History, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Pub Date: May 10th, 1968 ISBN: 0374531382 Page count: 2...

Oct 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Slouching Towards Bethlehem: ...

The New York Times

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THE title essay in Joan Didion's 1968 collection, "Slouching Towards Bethlehem," ends with two chilling portraits: a 5-year-old whose counterculture mother feeds her hallucinogens and a 3-year-old who gnaws on an electric cord while his parents rummage for spilled drugs.

Jul 21 1996 | Read Full Review of Slouching Towards Bethlehem: ...

The New York Times

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Rachel Harrison evokes some kind of excess with a multicolored chunk of foam resting on a bed of plastic straws, while Matt Johnson improves on the classic ''honey bear'' dispenser with a cast-brass cap that keeps the honey near the working end of the bottle.

Aug 13 2004 | Read Full Review of Slouching Towards Bethlehem: ...

The Independent

Ostensibly a tribute to the memory of Henry Robbins, Didion's editor at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and then at Simon & Schuster, it conveys, in the end, astonishingly little about Robbins: his dim presence is far outshone by the things Didion is telling us about Didion, including the black silk dres...

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National Review Online

I was waiting for something without knowing what.” Cline captures this typical moment in young female lives, when neediness seeks desperately for any source of love or affirmation — and The Girls narrates the slow, unfolding horror of how the feral pack of girls and their male leader, Russell, “d...

Jul 09 2016 | Read Full Review of Slouching Towards Bethlehem: ...

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