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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Book #50 (woot!) on my reading list this year was Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

Lazy I know, but it's tough to beat this synopsis from Powell's both for explaining what the book is about and why I read it:
"Universally acclaimed when it was first published in 1968, Slouching Towards Bethlehem has become a modern classic. More than any other book of its time, this collection captures the mood of 1960s America, especially the center of its counterculture, California. These essays, keynoted by an extraordinary report on San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, all reflect that, in one way or another, things are falling apart, "the center cannot hold." An incisive look at contemporary American life, Slouching Towards Bethlehem has been admired for several decades as a stylistic masterpiece."

This is the first Didion book I've read. I wasn't sure quite where to start but since I've read a lot about 60's San Fran (Kesey, Merry Pranksters, Hell's Angels, etc) this seemed as good a place as any. Some of the essays feel a bit dated now but overall it was an interesting read, especially the titular piece.

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