Where I Was From

I had heard of Joan Didion—her reputation as a giant of modern American literature—and had read an interview of her that made me interested in reading some of her work. When I came across a copy of Didion’s Where I Was From, I snagged it, hoping for a revelatory experience discovering her genius for myself. With my sights set that high, I was disappointed. That’s not to say my reading it was a waste. The book is an interesting history/memoir of her family and the state of California and how the two are entwined. There were plenty of historical and literary tidbits that were interesting, especially as an overview of how California developed and changed from the settler’s mindset from which it arose. Didion’s voice is direct and enjoyable–like that of an exceedingly clever and well-read friend. In chronicling her history, and touching on the death of both her parents, she culminates all her ruminations with a profoundly simple statement that seems to me to be the crux of the whole issue concerning her life and her California: There is no way to deal with everything we lose. Ultimately, this made me want to read more Didion–to see what else she has to say.

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