Thursday, 27 April 2017



BOOK 173: SLOUCHING TOWARDS BETHLEHEM: JOAN DIDION

Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a 1968 collection of essays by Joan Didion that mainly describes her experiences in California during the 1960s. It takes its title from the poem "The Second Coming", by W. B. Yeats. The contents of this book are reprinted in Didion's We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction (2006).

The title essay describes Didion's impressions of the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco during the neighborhood's heyday as a countercultural center. In contrast to the more utopian image of the milieu promoted by counterculture sympathizers then and now, Didion offered a rather grim portrayal of the goings-on, including an encounter with a pre-school-age child who was given LSD by her parents.

In The New York Times Book Review, the novelist and screenwriter Dan Wakefield wrote, "Didion's first collection of nonfiction writing, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, brings together some of the finest magazine pieces published by anyone in this country in recent years. Now that Truman Capote has pronounced that such work may achieve the stature of 'art,' perhaps it is possible for this collection to be recognized as it should be: not as a better or worse example of what some people call 'mere journalism,' but as a rich display of some of the best prose written today in this country."




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