Maria’s staff pick: “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” by Joan Didion

by Jaime Cary

Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” by Joan Didion

I am convinced that Joan Didion has a way of saying things better than anyone. Her prose is beautiful, her composition spectacular and her voice incredibly unique.

In Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Didion’s collection of essays, subjects range from a murdering housewife to trips to Mexico, from John Wayne to the San Francisco drug culture of the 1960s. She approaches all of these subjects with honesty, wit and insight, and casts them into the written word masterfully.

Most of the pieces are centered on the idea of the “American dream,” what it was, where it went and the lengths that people will go to find it. At the same time, Didio questions its existence and, if it ever did exist, whether it was a dream worthy of our desire.

I really liked this book. I thought the essays were masterfully done and arranged in the perfect order. Her prose is unlike any I have ever read before. It’s lyrical, almost meandering through her thoughts, and then toward the end of each piece she ties her thoughts together in a way that is always poignant. If you haven’t read it you should as I feel like this is one that everyone should read at least once. Especially if you have lived in the West or have ever contemplated the American dream.

— Jaime Cary


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