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Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a collection of essays that generally revolve around California and how counterculture is a reflection of society falling apart. Didion's style is a combination of investigative, reflective and informative writing techniques and it results in unique and entertaining prose. She is very concise and efficient which sets the tone for her messages. Finally she is the master of last sentence one-liners which end her essays and occasionally saves the work.
Most of these essays are from the 60's and while they probably opened up a lot of eyes back when they were first published, they sometimes seem dated in 2006. The title essay is a perfect example of this as it follows a community of young hippies in the Haight-Ashbury district though their drug filled anti-establishment existence. Novel at the time, but about as groundbreaking as crabgrass in Ohio. Other subjects include California lifestyles, and Joan Baez. Despite this, her prose was able to keep me interetested thoughout the book and I would consider reading something else of her's.
Bottom Line: This is one of those collections that is pretty straightforward and worth reading if you like strong writing or are particularly interested in California. As a native Californian I felt she did capture some of the magical essence that is the Golden State.
Didion writes well, and some of the initial essays are captivating, particularly the first one. However I found the second half of the book to be decent and nothing more, but what do I know? I'm neither a writer or a philosopher.
I was disappointed when this book arrived. It is palm-sized, but thick. This made it awkward to carry and to read. I loaned my original copy years ago and had hoped to replace it. I can never find this particular book in used book stores so was happy to see a hard cover option on Amazon. It is nicely constructed and the essays hold up, but do not expect a "normal" sized book for your $16. This was not disclosed by the seller, that I can recall. If you'd like to read these essays and want something "cutesy", which doesn't really fit the content, this is a good option. The 3 stars are for the book dimensions, not the author. (It *is* very pretty, but not as expected.)