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Democracy

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,521 Ratings  ·  133 Reviews
Inez Victor knows that the major casualty of the political life is memory. But the people around Inez have made careers out of losing track. Her senator husband wants to forget the failure of his last bid for the presidency. Her husband's handler would like the press to forget that Inez's father is a murderer. And, in 1975, the year in which much of this bitterly funny nov ...more
Paperback, 234 pages
Published April 25th 1995 by Vintage International (first published 1984)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Greg
Mar 20, 2011 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Damn, so many of the reviews for this book are terrible. I kind of want to get a gazillion votes for this review just so that it will come before some of the nonsense in the other reviews. Any talk of post-modernism or meta-fiction or there being too many characters in this novel (there aren't that many, more than say the one in certain Beckett works, but less than in a Dickens or Pynchon novel), also plug the ears in your head that listen when you are reading to any of cries that the book is du ...more
orsodimondo
Jun 06, 2015 orsodimondo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
LA PAROLA PERFETTA
Pubblicato nel 1984, ‘Democracy' è il quarto romanzo di Joan Didion, da molti considerato il suo migliore.
Forse il migliore lo è davvero, ma è comunque una bella gara, sono uno più bello dell’altro.

Scrive Edoardo Nesi: Non sono mai stato capace di decidere se dell'opera narrativa di Joan Didion ammiro più l'esattezza chirurgica dello stile o il distante calore delle lievi, sospese trame; le esemplari descrizioni dei cieli e del sole e delle albe o la glaciale delicatezza con cu
...more
Eric
Apr 30, 2015 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ficciones
The first meeting of Inez Christian and Jack Lovett at the ballet - the beginning of Lovett's "grave attraction" that would last over twenty years - is the sexiest scene I've read in a while:

Cissy Christian smoking a cigarette in her white jade holder. Inez, wearing dark glasses...pinning and repinning a gardenia in her damp hair. This is our niece, Inez, Dwight Christian said. Inez, Major Lovett. Jack. Inez, Mrs. Lovett. Carla. A breath of air, a cigarette. This champagne is lukewarm. One glass
...more
Mitchell
Apr 24, 2015 Mitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first read this book in 1984 I was absolutely staggered. Immediately, I flipped back to the beginning and read it again. I'm sure I've read it a couple of more times since, and this latest re-read has merely confirmed that this must be my all-time favorite book. Although I've been land-locked for the past number of years, I am -- in essence -- a person of the Pacific, and Didion's book IS the Pacific.

Still, it's a complicated little book and demands more from the reader than most. One mus
...more
Kyle
May 09, 2007 Kyle rated it it was amazing
Structurally this book sort of demolished my mind. I'm in awe.
Kim Fay
Jan 28, 2012 Kim Fay rated it it was amazing
As much as I am a fan of "Slouching Toward Bethlehem," I think that this is my favorite Joan Didion book. It presumes so much on the part of the reader -- that we already know about the intricacies of the characters' lives and the underbelly of the Vietnam War, and more so, that we care about any of it. In this book, Didion does not seem to write at all for the reader. She seems to be writing to answer some question whispering to her inside her own thoughts. While the novel "The Descendants" (I ...more
Patrick McCoy
Oct 06, 2014 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it
I am slowly making my way through Joan Didion's oeuvre and Democracy (1984) is easily one of her best works of fiction. I think it incorporates many of her interests and themes. For example, Inez victory is unhappily married to a politician and gets involved with a former lover, a behind-the-scenes fixer in faraway locales, Jack Lovett. She shuttles from Honolulu (Hawaii is special place for Didion), California, to distant capitals in SE Asia: Manila, Jakarta, and Kula Lumpur. The novel is set i ...more
LauraLou
Inez Victor knows that the major casualty of the political life is memory. But the people around Inez have made careers out of losing track. Her senator husband wants to forget the failure of his bid for the presidency. Her husband's handler would like the press to forget that Inez's father is a murderer. And, in 1975, the year in which this bitterly funny over is set, America is doing its best to lose track of its one-time client, the the lethally hemorrhaging republic of south Vietnam. As conc ...more
Jessica
Sep 12, 2011 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jessica by: zan
I'm slowly making my way through Didion's novels, and this one was a surprise. In her non-fiction, she has a way of writing about things and inserting herself into subjects like "Hawaii" and "water sources in southern California" - always interesting; however, I've never seen her do it in her fiction until this novel.

She acts as another character nearly, at first just as the writer and divulges in how she means to introduce these characters and their tragedy. In this way, it almost reads like a
...more
Aaron Clark
Mar 12, 2016 Aaron Clark rated it really liked it
I don't usually mind when writers insert themselves into their own work. I generally like postmodern fiction/metafiction. I also appreciate it when an author intentionally plays with the traditional "linear" narrative, when "plot" is not "beginning, middle, and end", in that order. Didion does all of those things in Democracy, and she is obviously a talented writer, yet Democracy just doesn't "do" it for me. In Democracy, she comes off as an egotist in her intrusions and ramblings, and she isn't ...more
Elaine
Sep 14, 2010 Elaine rated it it was ok
This was an odd book. It was a meta-fiction, fake memoir/biography, mystery with little substance behind it. There were a lot of characters and I found it difficult to keep them all straight, especially when there wasn't much interaction between them. The characters were extremely well developed, but the plot was not at all, and I didn't see the point of the author's inserting herself into the story. I didn't really see the point of the novel, actually. However, let it be known that I pretty muc ...more
Keith Schnell
Dec 06, 2015 Keith Schnell rated it it was amazing
Joan Didion’s ability to convey the essence of a character and a setting with a few quick words, amounting to only a sketch, or a telltale quote, is what makes this book so powerful. This is critical, given that the intersection of character and environment constitutes its main purpose. Otherwise, Democracy would be nothing more than an uncomplicated love story about a bored politician’s wife fleeing a stifling and accidental marriage for the real but extremely shifty affection of her first love ...more
Ubiqua
Nov 24, 2014 Ubiqua rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Edizioni e/o ripropone il quarto romanzo di Joan Didion, pubblicato originariamente nel 1984. In Democracy si notano alcune somiglianze con il precedente Diglielo da parte mia. Viene ripreso il setting esotico (questa volta Kuala Lumpur e Honolulu), ma soprattutto la rappresentazione di una protagonista femminile, Inez, che si dibatte tra le maglie di una famiglia soffocante nella sua imponenza.
Joan Didion è voce narrante e personaggio del romanzo, con l’ipotetico intento di dare all’opera il s
...more
Sketchbook
Sep 24, 2015 Sketchbook rated it did not like it
Aw, Joan : tell us abt Streisand ! That might have reality.
Hilda
Apr 22, 2016 Hilda rated it liked it
Shelves: e-book, library
This was an extremely unusual book. I'm usually "iffy" about post-modern literature, as many reviewers have deemed this book.

As I was reading, I kept thinking I was going to stop, not because I disliked it necessarily, but because I wasn't engaged. Yet, I kept coming back to it, each time thinking I would stop. But I never did. I wound up reading the short book in just a couple of dates - so I guess I was engaged.

Arguably "bad Joan Didion" is better than most, not to say that I would qualify th
...more
Kerry
Apr 22, 2009 Kerry rated it it was amazing
Almost a roman a clef with Kennedy-esque characters. Didion's prose, the laconic dialogue, the detached, knowing narrator, the interviews with the characters, the wait and see lovers - I can't express how effectively Didion evokes the surrealism of Vietnam for "non-actors" At one point the narrator describes the implosion of time as the USA pulls out of Vietnam, that is timeless.
I've been trying to write a screen play of this for 10 years
Allison
May 05, 2015 Allison rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015-books
This was such a slog. I kept waiting for it to take form, to pick up its pace, to come together as a story. It never did.
Becky
Feb 20, 2015 Becky rated it it was amazing
This book was such a change of pace and I really enjoyed it. The novel sees late 20th century American Democracy from the viewpoint of Inez Victor, a somewhat accidental socialite who has the unfortunate experience of being married to a pretty useless Senator. While her public life with the man supposedly running the show is splashed all over the newspapers, it is her secret life which truly excites her, her liaisons with shady International Man of Mystery, Jack Lovett, a man who appears in ever ...more
Melina O.
Mar 19, 2015 Melina O. rated it liked it
Colors, moisture, heat, enough blue in the air. Four fucking reasons. Love, Inez. Sums up my reasons for enjoying the story as well.

Democracy is a story about a woman named Inez Victor, during the fall of Saigon when America was at war and failing at it in Vietnam. The story does not mainly focus on the war, rather, in the life of Inez while she deals with public scrutiny in the midst of the political going ons of the time. It's a story of a person exhausted and wants to give it all up.


Didion in
...more
Lisa
Jan 14, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it
Maybe I'm biased (ha), but this is just to freaking post-modern for me. Fractured & splintered I can handle. Boring I cannot. This one just didn't interest me, though, like DeLillo's Mao II, it raises some fine points about the media's function in our contemporary world.
Jesse Call
Jan 13, 2014 Jesse Call rated it liked it
I'll have to admit I was initially put-off by Didion's narrative interjections -- it seemed kitschy at best, and for her to once again demurely mention the college textbook she was featured in for her essays seemed particularly self-aggrandizing -- but as I pushed through the novel, I came to find her impatience for traditional plot devices in what is a fundamentally boring story quite charming.

This is a book that isn't really about "the story" in the conventional sense; to be quite honest, the
...more
Denya
Apr 16, 2015 Denya rated it it was ok
This book put my brain into meta-brain mode for the whole read. To me, this book was metafiction about metafiction, as well as about meta thoughts and meta speech. The fiction has an awareness of narrative that kind of made my brain hurt, but was interesting to think about. I really liked the thoughts about the complexity of creating a narrative, which are seen in several lesser themes. For example, the idea of public v private image which is seen in the character of Joan Didion v the author her ...more
Nikki
May 21, 2007 Nikki added it
Recommends it for: Everyone who enjoys rhythmic, though navel-gazing, writing styles
I adored this book for far too many reasons to list. Pretty much everyone else I know hates it and hates all that Didion writes. For whatever reason I am very much drawn to her writing style despite her obvious shortcomings
Carolyn
Jan 30, 2012 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
War, post-colonialism, presidential politics, murder, international intrigue, sibling rivalry, betrayal, parental failure, enduring love--all of this in just over 200 pages of Joan Didion's inimitable prose.
Christine
Dec 14, 2007 Christine rated it it was amazing
I'm still figuring out how I feel about this book. So three stars seems fair. I think I'm just too dumb to be reading Didion.
Marco
Dec 18, 2014 Marco rated it did not like it
I did not like the book.
I find dissonant and stun the antithesis proposed by the author for which all the events are offered in subject mode (e.g. the author is present when the protagonists tell) but the same events are deliberately aseptic.
Impressions:
White ... such as the cleanliness of the author's writing
White ... such as the absence of comments (personal, non personal or any kind of ...). this despite the subjectivity of the structure
White ... such as the light of many of the places where
...more
Nicola
May 18, 2015 Nicola rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
This was a pleasant surprise, I went into it not expecting very much and found myself hooked by the very first words.

The light at dawn during those Pacific tests was something to see.

Something to behold.

Something that could almost make you think you saw God, he said.

He said to her.

Jack Lovett said to Inez Victor.


Joan Didion uses her short sentences rather like short machine gun bursts, and it works well. It gives a sense of intimacy and longing, which echoes throughout the rest of the book even
...more
AC
Jan 29, 2016 AC rated it it was amazing
What a fabulous book! Just loved it.... Witty, raw, humane... I really adore Didion....
Zan
Apr 05, 2015 Zan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zan by: MY LOVING PARENTS
Joan Didion is very impressed by high society, and maybe wants you to think she hung out with the Kennedy's without every coming right out and saying it.

She uses a line in here about "let me die and go to sleep in the ground" that she explains in Blue Nights (i think...) is actually something her daughter Quintana used to say. So that was kind of cool in a depressing way.

Despite the metafiction/postmodern trappings, at its heart the book is a romance about two star-crossed lovers. This doesn't
...more
Hank Stuever
Jul 16, 2013 Hank Stuever rated it liked it
After feeling disappointed by "Run River" and "A Book of Common Prayer," and having worked my way through all her other books that existed at that point, I took it slow with "Democracy." (It was her journalism I wanted more of, circa 1991, which was coming at a slow but somewhat steady clip in pieces she wrote for The New York Review of Books and, less occasionally, the Robert Gottlieb-era New Yorker. I began to realize that I was running out of new Didion stuff to discover.)

Anyhow, "Democracy."
...more
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Joan Didion was born in California and lives in New York City. She's best known for her novels and her literary journalism.

Her novels and essays explore the disintegration of American morals and cultural chaos, where the overriding theme is individual and social fragmentation. A sense of anxiety or dread permeates much of her work.
More about Joan Didion...

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