Where I Was From
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Where I Was From

By (author) Joan Didion

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A memoir of land, family and perseverance from one of the most influential writers in America. In this moving and surprising book, Joan Didion reassesses parts of her life, her work, her history - and America's. Where I Was From, in Didion's words, "represents an exploration into my own confusions about the place and the way in which I grew up, misapprehensions and misunderstandings so much a part of who I became that I can still to this day confront them only obliquely." The book is a haunting narrative of how her own family moved west with the frontier from the birth of her great-great-great-great-great-grandmother in Virginia in 1766 to the death of her mother on the edge of the Pacific in 2001; of how the wagon-train stories of hardship and abandonment and endurance created a culture in which survival would seem the sole virtue. Didion examines how the folly and recklessness in the very grain of the California settlement led to the California we know today - a state mortgaged first to the railroad, then to the aerospace industry, and overwhelmingly to the federal government. Joan Didion's unerring sense of America and its spirit, her acute interpretation of its institutions and literature, and her incisive questioning of the stories it tells itself make this fiercely intelligent book a provocative and important tour de force from one of America's greatest writers.

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  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 126 x 196 x 18mm | 158.76g
  • 06 Sep 2004
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • HarperPerennial
  • London
  • English
  • 0007178875
  • 9780007178872
  • 67,347

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Author Information

Joan Didion was born in California and lives in New York. She is the author of five novels and six previous books of nonfiction: among them the great portraits of a decade in essays, Sentimental Journeys, The White Album, and Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

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Review quote

'Her tough, beautiful, surgically precise prose is like nothing else I've ever read.' Donna Tartt 'She is a voice like no other in contemporary journalism.' New York Times 'Everything Didion writes has a land's end edginess to it- a hyperattentiveeye on the dramas of the human condition. She writes as someone who has come through great shudders of the earth with a fundamental understanding that everything is subject to instantaneous and complete revision.' Village Voice 'She is the best chronicler California has.' Vogue 'Valediction and elegy alike, WHERE I WAS FROM is a storm-tossed book... Some writers see Californians as brilliant dreamers; others see failures, seeking a second start. Didion steps over both arguments and portrays the settlers of the state as shrewd entrepreneurs who would stop at nothing to turn dirt into dollars.' Thomas Curwen, LA Times

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