Joan Didion, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”


San Francisco for Didion is “the evidence of atomization, the proof that things fall apart” xiii. “My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests… writers are always selling somebody out” xvi. (see her use of facile, 162)

WHERE THE KISSING NEVER STOPS – On Joan Baez’s school with the boy and his violet marble, and the sky the same color as that marble.

7000 ROMAINE, LOS ANGELES – America is neither about money nor power (like Isherwood, she finds Europeans more materialistic), but “personal freedom, mobility, privacy” 71.

MARRYING ABSURD – the facsimile of tradition in Vegas weddings for “children.”

SLOUCHING TOWARDS BETHLEHEM – the long title essay on the very young hippies of the Haight in the summer of love, 1967. It begins, “the center was not holding” 84. It’s mostly about dirty kids doing drugs and watching detergent cut grease and talking about ideas they don’t really feel involved in. At the end, Didion meets a five year old on acid licking her lips and muttering.

ON GOING HOME – her daughter, a birthday, her legacy

NOTES FROM A NATIVE DAUGHTER – CA is 5 hours from NY, but it is “somewhere else” 171. It is “where we run out of continent,” and it is losing its history 186.

GOODBYE TO ALL THAT – She leaves NY. “That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in face irrevocable and that it has counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it” 233. She is a Californian again, with the sunshine and jasmine.


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