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The White Album

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  12,558 ratings  ·  898 reviews
First published in 1979, The White Album is a mosaic of the late sixties and seventies. It includes, among other bizarre artifacts and personalities, the dark journeys and impulses of the Manson family, a Black Panther Party press conference, the story of John Paul Getty's museum, the romance of water in an arid landscape, and the swirl and confusion of the sixties. With c ...more
Paperback, 223 pages
Published November 16th 2017 by 4th Estate, An imprint of Harper Collins Publishers (first published 1979)
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4.18  · 
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 ·  12,558 ratings  ·  898 reviews


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Orsodimondo
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana, reportage
CI RACCONTIAMO STORIE PER VIVERE
C’è chi trova lo stile di Joan Didion irritante e artificioso, e la accusa di prendersi troppo sul serio, di mettersi sempre al centro della narrazione.
Io no.

description

A me piace la sua enfasi, mi piacciono le sue ripetizioni, il suo cominciare e finire periodi consecutivi con frasi identiche, l’uso che fa della congiunzione e (come direbbe Martin Amis, batte perfino una canzone di Leonard Cohen), il suo ritmo magnetico, la sua melodia, la sua ricerca di un’eco, il suo ince
...more
Darwin8u
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, aere-perennius
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live... 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

description

I wish I could dance like Fred A
...more
Nancy
Aug 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The White Album was required reading for my American Experience class. I didn't love the book at first, but after a couple of essays, Didion's quiet style started to grow on me. This collection is a revealing narrative of events that occurred in the 1960's and 1970's. It examines the lives of famous and infamous people and places (Charles Manson, Ramón Novarro, the Hoover Dam, Huey Newton, the California freeway, Bogotá, Doris Lessing, and others). Didion gives candid and thoughtful snapshots of ...more
Greg
Apr 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In one essay Joan Didion mentions Grace Cathedral Park in San Francisco. I don't know anything about the cathedral or the park except that it's the name and setting for one of my all-time favorite songs. My love for Mark Kozelek and the Red House Painters is marred a bit by what an asshole he was when I saw Red House Painters live. How does someone write such great songs and act like such a monumental douche (which apparently is his normal live persona, he yells at the audience, plays rambling t ...more
Eric
Dec 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I had started with The White Album instead of Slouching Toward Bethlehem I might have been spared two years of blithely embarrassing myself with statements like: “Joan Didion? She’s ok.” Actually she’s amazing. The rhythms of her self-dramatization in Slouching were too arch for my taste, or perhaps for my mood. The White Album must be different, or I must have changed, because I love the persona that emerges from its rhythms. She’s brooding, migrainous, in the first essay paranoid, yet essen ...more
Brian
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015_sow
Reading Didion’s essays is not unlike unearthing a time capsule you didn’t know existed from a parallel universe that appears earthlike. Sure, there are words like California and feminism and Malibu – but Didion does things to those familiar events and locales that changes them into an unique vision, a Didionism.

Whether we’re standing with her on Oak Street below the Black Panthers’ HQ receiving a visual pat-down, retracing author James Jones’ steps along the army barracks in Honolulu or mesmer
...more
Julie Ehlers
As was the case with Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem, certain aspects of The White Album seem hopelessly dated. I have no idea who Bishop James Pike is, for instance, and now that I've read about him I still don't really care. But another aspect of this collection irked me even more: Didion's all-encompassing weariness, her mild derision for seemingly everything and everyone with whom she crosses paths. Even in her younger years, did Joan Didion ever get excited about anything, ever, e ...more
Geoff
Apr 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t love these essays until about the midpoint, “The Women’s Movement”, a devastatingly good piece about the watering-down of feminism in mid-century America, about the heartbreaking shift of a vitally important revolutionary movement as it lost touch with its ideological base and became ever more a vehicle appropriated by a leisure class, its goals moving away from seeking the possibility for an individual to create their own unique destiny unfettered by traditional obstacles and bias, and ...more
Mike
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live" is the well-known first line of this collection, and of the title essay, and it has probably played a role in my avoiding Joan Didion until now. I had always attributed it to a somewhat sentimental conception of writing and reading, but now I'm glad I gave her a chance, and glad I decided to reread the title essay. In one section, she imagines a woman standing on a ledge on the sixteenth floor of an apartment building; on my first reading, I understoo
...more
Annikky
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Everybody likes Didion. All intelligent females I know like her. All intelligent males I know would most likely like her, if they could be bothered to read more female authors. Or maybe ‘like’ is the wrong word, as it’s a word that does not suit Didion at all. Anyway, I fully expected The White Album to be sharp and well observed and elegantly written. And it was. What I did not expect - and what endeared her to me as soon as I realised what was going on - is that Didion is an obsessive nerd ...more
Cheryl Kennedy
Exceptional writing devoid of judgment by Joan Didion, capturing an era of societal disorder questioning the core principles of American values. The author observes the assault on norms that resulted in advancements for women, truths of racism in our culture, criminal justice realities, the terminal results of overdoses in the young, the radicalization of students toward authority, AND notes on Ronald and Nancy Reagan. The era that predicted the mobilization of discord for the rest of the centur ...more
Feliks
This undersung little book rates so highly with me that it very nearly earns my vote for the best writing by any modern-day American woman author. Period. [I would make it my #1 choice, but that honor goes to horror-authoress Shirley Jackson.] If we focus only on 20c. American nonfiction ; then it is certainly my #1 favorite title--beating out all works by all other females, and also all males (David McCullough, Norman Mailer, Hunter Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Gore Vidal, etc) as well. Did you hear w ...more
El
I absolutely adored Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem. It is because of Didion (in addition to an other select few) that I want to write essays. But whenever I read her, I'm not entirely sure why.

Didion's background is as a journalist. Her essays in this collection, as in others, are very journalistic in approach as many of them were written for various publications. Often, however, the individual essays make me feel cold, devoid of much other feeling. Her writing does not always inspire me,
...more
Tosh
Apr 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-bought
This is my first Joan Didion book, and for me, it's a hit and miss. An enjoyable read and obviously a good writer, but I don't feel any sense of passion or deep interest. I was curious to read "The White Album" because I live in Los Angeles. I remember the Charles Manson times as being very scary in Los Angeles, and Didion captures those horrifying moments as it happened. One gravely suspected things are not entirely OK, which was a direct contrast with the Hippie thing at the time. A bad vibe c ...more
lit.erary.britt
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

I love the ease with which Joan Didion writes, or at least it appears as such. It’s borderline conversational yet flawless. Here, she presents us mostly with snippets of 60s and 70s America. Such a fascinating time period. My favorite essay was the Georgia O’Keefe. I’m a fan. This was only my second Didion and I can’t wait to read more.
David Sasaki
I've always thought that I was somehow naïve to some sort of greater truth about reality, or at least the United States, or at least California, because I had never read anything by Joan Didion. Friends and acquaintances and strangers spoke of her with a sort of ineloquent awe as if their own descriptions could never match her lucid prose or mental acuity.

Now that I have actually read her own words I want to know, what is all the fuss about? I find Barbara Grizzutti Harrison's 1980 essay much mo
...more
Aloke
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this dystopian look at a far future California under attack:

“the “rescue-boat operation” at Paradise Cove, the “beach operations” at Leo Carrillo, Nicholas, Point Dume, Corral, Malibu Surfrider, Malibu Lagoon, Las Tunas, Topanga North and Topanga South. Those happen to be the names of some Malibu public beaches but in the Zuma lookout that day the names took on the sound of battle stations during a doubtful cease-fire. All quiet at Leo. Situation normal at Surfrider.”

And its terrible a
...more
Mind the Book
What I love: slå mig ner på ett kafé och sträckläsa en bok.

Inleds med de bevingade orden "We tell ourselves stories in order to live".

Lästips från detta radioprogram http://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt/...
aconeyisland
Un martedì mattina a casa sua | La graziosa Nancy Reagan, allora moglie del governatore della California, era in piedi nella sala da pranzo della sua casa in affitto sulla Quarantacinquesima Strada di Sacramento, e ascoltava un giornalista televisivo che le spiegava cosa voleva fare. Ascoltava attentamente. Nancy Reagan è un'ascoltatrice molto attenta. La troupe televisiva voleva osservarla, disse il giornalista, mentre faceva esattamente quello che avrebbe fatto di solito un martedì mattina a c ...more
Sarah
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, non-fiction
We tell ourselves stories in order to live.


I really loved the titular essay and thoroughly enjoyed the others. Some of this is kind of dated now, but don't let that put you off - I'd still highly recommend checking it out because of how fantastic Joan Didion's non-fiction writing is.
lapetitesouris
This was a struggle to get through. Some very boring to read essays (about how much she loves water?) interspersed with some gems.

A disappointing read after Slouching Towards Bethlehem, which in my opinion is a much stronger (and dreamier) book of essays.
Cadu França
I started reading this book after joining a Facebook group that set out to read all of the 10 books Greta Gerwig mentions in a Vulture article as her “desert island books.”

I had no idea who Joan Didion was but by page twenty I had already started to really enjoy her writing. Not exactly the subject-matter-whatever, but her approach to them.

I also got to think about Greta Gerwig’s work a few times, and not only in the parts where she writes about driving in Sacramento, but also at a certain point
...more
Annie
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live . . . 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 . . . Quite often I reflect on the big house in Hollywood, on ‘Midnight Confessions’ and on Ramon Novarro and on the fact that Roman Polanski and I are go ...more
Anna Strömberg
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Det fanns ett antal essäer i den här boken som var riktigt, riktigt bra, särskilt texterna i kapitlen The White Album, Women och On the Morning After the Sixties. Jag delar dock inte Didions fascination för vare sig akvedukter eller köpcentrum - läsningen av dessa var alltså inte lika läsvärda som de ovannämnda, tycker jag... Men över lag är The White Album en väldigt bra bok.
christa
Oct 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dear Shevaun,

You left a self-addressed envelope, the size of a note card, in the Duluth Public Library’s copy of “The White Album,” a collection of essays by Joan Didion. Your name as both the sender and receiver. Both address labels indicate an association with the University of Florida. One is decorated with a UF, the other a cartoonish profile of a cartoon gator, its snout hanging out of a decorative oval. Neither label is very artistic minded, not the finest work of a graphic designer. I do
...more
Michael
A fine example of juxtaposing public cultural events with personal experiences, a kind of journalism Didion practically invented (and Hunter Thompson took over the top). By putting her reflections on political and social events in the context of her interests and activities at the time, the social impacts of the events are made more particular in an intimate way. But is their significance made more meaningful or universal with such a method? I couldn't help wondering that with each essay Didion ...more
AC
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1968
The title essay is wonderful..., a must read for Didion fans.
Rick Slane
Essays from the late 1960's to the late 1970's. I skipped some of them.
Jayesh
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The book had me at the first line:

We tell ourselves stories in order to live.


Joan Didion is apparently a big name which I knew nothing about when I started reading the book. I don't remember why I had added this book to my reading list, but that first line caught my attention and made sure that I saw through it. The author's voice is sardonic, yet sensitive; emotionally affectless and kinda robotic, yet somehow pleasant. Still reading about various Californian things, I was constantly reminded o
...more
Vanessa
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We tell ourselves stories in order to live......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.

-"The White Album"

Joan Didion can string a compound sentence f
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add correct page count 2 16 Jul 30, 2017 07:01AM  
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4,193 followers
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.
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” 564 likes
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live...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.” 364 likes
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