Saturday, 27 August 2016

Where I Was From by Joan Didion

Where I Was From by Joan Didion
Published in September 2003 by Knopf

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy the book from /
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

How I got this book:
Purchased the ebook

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My partner, Dave, chose Where I Was From for our Kindle so I didn't read any blurb prior starting the book. I was vaguely expecting an autobiography of a journalist's youth and certainly not the wide ranging evaluation of California that Joan Didion has so eloquently penned.

There are elements of her own family history mixed in with every Californian family's history, whether 'original' or recent settlers. We also learn in detail about the political life of the state and I was amazed to realise how much of the economy is, or at least was, based on Government money and Defence contract production lines. There are definite echoes of the collapse of the old British mill towns in the current Californian situation. I have only travelled through this part of the world once - by Amtrak from Los Angeles to Santa Clara to San Francisco, a fortnight in all with a few days in each city - but found Didion's book fascinating even though many of the places are unfamiliar to me. I love the way she has melded her storylines to make every word feel personal.

This is very much a book of her struggling to identify and come to terms with her roots and their contradictions. I suspect most of us have a mental image of our home that isn't necessarily truthful about what is really there. Didion has made a brave stand to speak of both the good and the bad of her home state.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Joan Didion / Reportage / Books from America

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