Where I Was From

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Jan 26, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 240 pages
In this moving and unexpected book, Joan Didion reassesses parts of her life, her work, her history, and ours. 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, confusions as much about America as about California, 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.

In Where I Was From, Didion turns what John Leonard has called “her sonar ear, her radar eye” onto her own work, as well as that of such California writers as Frank Norris and Jack London and Henry George, to examine 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, a dependent colony of those political and corporate owners who fly in for the annual encampment of the
Bohemian Club. Here is the one writer we always want to read on California showing us the startling contradictions in its–and in America’s–core values.

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 our greatest writers.


 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - thornton37814 - LibraryThing

Joan Didion discusses her family and their migration to California. She separates fact from fiction in the stories told, not only about her own family, but also about her native California. Exploring ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ivan.frade - LibraryThing

I was wondering more than once about that difference between the mythical and the real California, so this book was spot on. As Didion puts it: "things don't add up", and she goes to retell bits of ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
16
Section 3
19
Section 4
27
Section 5
38
Section 6
52
Section 7
72
Section 8
83
Section 13
135
Section 14
142
Section 15
145
Section 16
155
Section 17
170
Section 18
182
Section 19
189
Section 20
203

Section 9
93
Section 10
102
Section 11
115
Section 12
128
Section 21
218
Section 22
221
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Joan Didion was born in California and lives in New York. She is the author of five novels and six previous books of nonfiction: Political Fictions, After Henry, Miami, Salvador, The White Album, and Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

Joan Didion’s Political Fictions, The Last Thing He Wanted, After Henry, Miami, Democracy, Salvador, A Book of Common Prayer, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and Run River are available in Vintage paperback.

Bibliographic information