Monday, August 23, 2010

Where I Was From by Joan Didion

I can't believe it's been nearly a month since I last posted anything here. The days have just gotten away from me, I guess...

It's probably the fact that I've never lived there, but I've always harbored a bit of an obsession with California. While my own mental picture is more on the romantic side, Joan Didion, who grew up in Sacramento and lived in L.A. for years before moving to New York, looks to her home state with both fondness and discontent. Combining reportage, memoir, and literary criticism, she sharply examines her life and work, weaving together a narrative that touches on her pioneer ancestors (incredibly, she can trace her heritage back to the 1700s*), California’s debts to railroads and aerospace, the infamous Spur posse, California writers such as Jack London, Frank Norris, and herself, "painter of light" Thomas Kinkade, and more, to create a cohesive portrait. As always, her work is shrewd and insightful, both journalistic and very personal.

*"I know nothing else about [my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother] but I have her recipe for corn bread."

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