Jan's Reviews > Where I Was From

Where I Was From by Joan Didion
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's review
Apr 26, 2009

liked it
Recommended for: history buffs
Read in May, 2009

Joan Didion's constant name-dropping is such a turn-off to me that I almost didn't finish this book--she reminds me of the "cool kids" at high school. One of the reasons I completely avoid my class reunions.

That said, I learned quite a bit of California history from this book that I'd not heard before (or perhaps slept through). We all know the stories about the pioneers who often had to bury their dead and jettison all personal effects on the trail, not to mention the ill-fated Donner Party. But California history and development is much more than that.

I was familiar with the water issues after hearing Mark Arax, co-author of "The King of California" interviewed at Copperfield's, but I really didn't understand the impact of the railroad barons and later WWII and the aerospace industry in the development of Southern California. We can't forget about our burgeoning prison industry and the correctional officers' political machine behind the tougher sentencing laws and three strikes initiative that is keeping our prisons bursting with small-time pot offenders. Oy vey. I didn't realize that the anti-immigration attitude has been a part of our past back when the Chinese were subjected to miscegenation laws.

If you can get past the "in-crowd" mentality--I mean, after all, she did grow up next to Jerry and Kathleen Brown fergodssake--read this book. If you love California despite her checkered past and present, read this book. If you can't imagine living anywhere else on this green earth, read this book.

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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Jonelle (new)

Jonelle Curious if you like this. I read "The Year of Magical Thinking" a while back, which was good, but a little intense.


message 2: by Jan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jan I read "The Year of Magical Thinking" as well and liked it, though she is a bit of a name dropper. I'm not so sure about this one--will let you know.

message 3: by Jonelle (new)

Jonelle We downloaded "The #1 Ladies Detective Agency" for our drive. We have been enjoying the HBO series. The author has a series about a lady philosopher in Scotland, so I have one of those lined up, too. My friend Caroline has read all of them and loves them. Do let me know about this one.

message 4: by Jan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jan I've been so tempted by the Ladies Det. Agcy and didn't know there was an HBO series.

message 5: by Jonelle (new)

Jonelle We like the series a lot.

message 6: by Jan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jan You got me. Books 1 and 2 are coming from the Paperback Book Swap. =)

message 7: by L. (new)

L. Kotraba Jan:

I spent a lot of time looking for a reader who couldn't take the "name dropping" of Joan Didion. She's usually so honest in her descriptions, I expected her to explain this habit she has (Blue Nights)!

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