Agnese's Reviews > Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
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's review
Jan 17, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: essay
Read from September 27 to October 09, 2013 — I own a copy

I enjoyed the essay that lends its title to the book, about the hippie movement in San Francisco in the ‘60s. It’s a sequence of sharp images that together portrait the need of freedom and of breaking with traditional views of a generation, and its sense of loss when it comes to acting and making the change. What one feels when reading depends largely on the prospective that is chosen by the writer, and in this case Didion mostly interviewed kids, who were ready to embrace an ideal however vague it was to them just as they were ready to run from home.

But also Joan Baez’s school that is described in another chapter and that wants to be innovative, seems to remain on an abstract plan, unable to translate ideas into anything practical.

The essays about home and family sound melancholic, but it’s an emphatic melancholy, when it should just surface silently and almost against will to touch one’s heart. I liked nonetheless reading of Sacramento’s transformation over the years.

The few pages about Pearl Harbor are instead suffused with real, deep sadness.
The other essays in the book are then generally interesting but written in a plain, journalistic style that leaves no room to passion or to any quieter motion of the spirit. 3.5 stars.
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Reading Progress

09/27/2013 marked as: currently-reading
10/10/2013 marked as: read

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