Audie Award Nominee, Short Stories/Collections, 2013
Universally acclaimed from the time it was first published in 1968, Slouching Towards Bethlehem has been admired for decades as a stylistic masterpiece. Academy Award-winning actress Diane Keaton (Annie Hall, The Family Stone) performs these classic essays, including the title piece, which will transport the listener back to a unique time and place: the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco during the neighborhood’s heyday as a countercultural center.
This is Joan Didion’s first work of nonfiction, offering an incisive look at the mood of 1960s America and providing an essential portrait of the Californian counterculture. She explores the influences of John Wayne and Howard Hughes, and offers ruminations on the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room. Taking its title from W.B. Yeats’ poem "The Second Coming", the essays in Slouching Towards Bethlehem all reflect, in one way or another, that "the center cannot hold."
Slouching Towards Bethlehem is part of Audible’s A-List Collection, featuring the world’s most celebrated actors narrating distinguished works of literature that each star had a hand in selecting. For more great books performed by Hollywood’s finest, click here.
©1968 Joan Didion (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"Diane Keaton does an outstanding job of conveying an era and a place. Her narration is clear, well timed, and wonderfully consistent with the author's voice. Her ability to convey Didion's musings and gentle skepticism add much. Didion's style remains extraordinary." (AudioFile)
I usually love Didion's writing, but Diane Keaton's narration makes it really difficult to follow what is happening. I would recommend reading this one on your own or finding a different narrator.
The nostalgia is lost on someone who was born after the time period of the story. I can imagine someone enjoying the stream of consciousness writing style if you relate to the images or feelings the author describes, but otherwise, it feels a bit scattered and lacks a real take-away.
How could I go wrong, I thought. But the sad truth is I stopped listening because Diane Keaton's performance was so flat and uninspired.
There were some nice moments and good writing, especially in Part II "Personals," but I found most of these essays to lack structure and emotional depth. Throughout, I was restless and bored. I suspect she's grown a lot as a writer since these early days. I look forward to reading her more recent work.
Having grown up in California in the 50's and 60's this was a wonderful walk down memory lane. Joan style and content was totally engaging and true to the time. Highly recommend!
I haven't heard any other audio books narrated by Diane Keaton, but I must say, I would listen again and again, just because she did a wonderful job. Her speach was clear and, unlike some narrators, she wasn't overly dramatic. Her tone is clear and easy to listen to.
I really like Diane Keaton as an actress, and I think that made my disappointment in this audiobook more difficult to swallow. I really wanted to enjoy it, but it just never pulled me in. I have a long commute; however, when I have a good book to listen to, I look forward to the drive. I never looked forward to my ride and finally gave up on the book.
This new production brings the book to life in a fresh and relate-able way. Diane Keaton's performance is dead on (although she does get some place names wrong, which is odd for someone who has spent so much time in California.)
A collection of published and personal pieces about life in America during the 60's (it has nothing to do with the Middle East) the book still offers valid insights for a modern reader. She simultaneously provides a time capsule view into the past while reminding us that certain complaints are perennial as the seasons. I found the piece responding to complaints about how Hollywood doesn't make movies like they used to particularly funny.
Diane Keaton's reading captures the thoughtful prose and inflects a very slight condescension which I think represents the material very accurately.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
“I know something about dread myself, and appreciate the elaborate systems with which some people fill the void, appreciate all the opiates of the people, whether they are as accessible as alcohol and heroin and promiscuity or as hard to come by as faith in God or History.”
― Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem
I'm sure at some point Joan Didion will disappoint. I'm positive the honeymoon period will run out. I'll discover a fatal flaw, a series of articles, or a minor novel that she just 'phoned in', but not yet biatches.
Seriously, if prose could make me pregnant, I would now be Nadya Suleman.
I know this is just the normal hormonal response I get whenever I really seem to mesh or synch with an author or artist. I felt this way when I first read DFW's and McPhee's nonfiction. This is the same brain-storm that happened when I first read Delillo & Bellow's fiction. The same awe I felt when I walked into the Paris Opera and saw that giant Chagall ceiling hanging beyond that infamous, 7-ton bronze and crystal chandelier. Those same chills ran down my spine and flushed my face the first time I swallowed a Vicodin. I felt just as complete the first time I watched a Coen brothers movie. I also felt this the first time I discovered my arm naturally guided my hand to my lap. No, this isn't a revolution. It isn't even revolutionary. It a euphoria and I know it. I get it. I'm already cooling down. But I'm just going to leave the book here on my chest for awhile until my heart slows down a bit.
I love Joan Didion and I loved this collection of essays when I first read it many years ago but Diane Keaton's reading of it just seemed a little flat. I wish Ms. Didion had read it aloud herself.
i've always found 'personal journalism' something of a contradiction...hunter thompson, joan didion, tom wolfe, etc., and often can't find the bright line between it and fiction... that being said, a few of the 'stories' in this collection are golden reflections of our time, but most are simply the personal insights into how this writer receives the world...ms keaton's reading is entirely sympathetic and a pleasure to listen to...what puzzles me is whether she's ever met a foreign word (non-English) that has been adopted by our vernacular that she can pronounce with something that resembles its source language.
Sometimes I choose a lucky dip book. This was one of those. It is really strong in parts. It has a genuine feel of a range of 60s cultures. It is not weak anywhere just less interesting.
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