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South and West by Joan Didion

Updated: Feb 12, 2019


Joan Didion is perhaps the Platonic ideal of a coastal elite, which makes this collection of notes, observations, and musings on the Deep South (all written during a month-long sojourn in the summer of 1970) particularly fascinating. The prose and details here are slick and withering as ever, and Didion’s sense of disorientation and disdain is a constant foreboding hum throughout , like an air conditioner in an empty drugstore or mosquitoes gathering over stagnant ditch water.


Toward the end of the book there are some notes about California that would have worked better as an appendix to Where I Was From. Perhaps this is not the best place to start with Didion, but it is a rewarding read for her established fans.