First published in 1979, The White Album records indelibly the upheavals and aftermaths of the 1960s. Examining key events, figures, and trends of the era - including Charles Manson, the Black Panthers, and the shopping mall - through the lens of her own spiritual confusion, Joan Didion helped to define mass culture as we now understand it. Written with a commanding sureness of tone and linguistic precision, The White Album is a central example of American reportage and a classic of American autobiography.
©1979 Joan Didion (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
"All of the essays manifest not only [Didion's] intelligence but an instinct for details that continue to emit pulsations in the reader's memory and a style that is spare, subtly musical in its phrasing and exact. Add to these her highly vulnerable sense of herself, and the result is a voice like no other in contemporary journalism." (The New York Times Book Review)
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the "ideas" with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.”
- Joan Didion, The White Album
I wish I could dance like Fred Astaire and write like Joan Didion.
I find myself attracted to Joan Didion. The younger Didion, I can understand. She was a Miss Shiv and a Ms.Shank. She was sharp, California cool, and seemed to slide clean and straight along a razor-thin line between madness and coldness that was absolutely sane, true and beautiful. But it isn't just the young Didion I find attractive. I dig the older Didion. The one who seems more hard-wrinkled priestess of the California desert than an elderly queen of cool laying in bed with another GD migraine. I know this is the stuff of cults and hero worship. I know this is already a cliché. It isn't like I DON'T know my diet Coke is bad for me and that nothing is ever, EVER as advertised. But still I long, I lust, I linger too often over just the idea of Didion.
After reading her essays in 'The White Album', I think it would have been dangerous to breed Joan Didion with John McPhee. What rough New Journalism beast, its hour come round at last would awaken and slouch towards the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the New York Review of Books to be born? But where John McPhee is rolling hills and farmer's markets, Joan Didion is a raging river, breaking waves, and rock and roll. McPhee feeds you. Didion gives you the whiskey you might need after a bad dream, or bad trip. McPhee is a rocky mountain cut-through. Didion is an LA Freeway. I can't imagine my life without either. There are certain writers that make you want to read more. Didion is one of those writers that make you want to think and write more.
Be careful folks. You might fall in love with Joan Didion, but she sure the hell won't ever love you back.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
I picked this title for three reasons. First, it was highly recommended by a reviewer I follow. Secondly, I love the White Album. Thirdly, I have heard so much about Joan Didion but read none of her writing and I felt as if I was under-educated as a consequence. To say I am ever so slightly disappointed is only a reflection of my expectations and not of the reasons that brought be to listen to the book.
I am pleased I listened to this collection of essays (previously published in the course of a celebrated career as a New Journalist between the early sixties and the late seventies). Although it is commonly reported to be dead, this style of writing will be forever popular because it creates a relationship between the writer, the reader and the subject matter. Didion did that better than well, capturing the essence of the sixties and the seventies west coast feel as well as her own idiosyncratic meanderings as she wrote. I loved the pieces on the Doors session and the portage of water.
Why was I a tad disappointed? Possibly because there was not more of the bits I loved and not enough about the White Album.
Overall, it was a very satisfying experience made more memorable by a lovely reading by Susan Varon. If Didion captured the times, then Varon captured Didion.
Yes, definitely. This is a really compelling audiobook, beautifully done.
Susan Varon's voice is a perfect match for Didion's essays. I'd love to hear her do more.
This being my first Didion I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I of course know of Ms. Didion's acclaim and her style of writing.
This potent little collection of essays is as diverse as it is evocative. Every fan of Los Angeles will find something here to savor.
Narrator, Susan Varon is perfect at conjuring up tone and feeling of the 1960s and 1970s. I truly felt as if Ms. Didion were seated with me recalling her meeting The Doors and her lust for greenhouses. Varon was that great. Ms. Varon should read more!
I look forward to more of Ms. Didion and MUCH MUCH more from Ms. Varon.
I'm a long time fan of Joan Didion and a re-listening of The White Album (so many times and no doubt many more) never disappoints. This audiobook is also distinguished by an impeccable narration — spot on, note perfect in capturing Didion's written voice. Highly recommended.
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