Exhibit 1.7.14

Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion

 

 

A lot of this book in other books, it seems to me, thinking specifically of Mary Robison’s excellent Why Did I Ever, but a great deal of Didion’s nonfiction as well. Maybe because I just re-read The White Album, but hard not to see this as kind of a companion piece, a kind of rewriting of that end of the 60s history from one of the floozies hanging around The Doors. Which is not to say Maria, our narrator, is a floozy, exactly (nor that she knows Jim Morrison), but she’s certainly adrift in the orbit of controlling, famous men and subject to the mental and physical violence that goes along with their lack of concern. An emotional history rather than a political one, Didion’s novel finds a way to say something about the emptying out of a depressive not through diagnosis but through the relentless and wrenching spirals of a life (oftentimes literally).

It’s a book about circles, basically.

At its best, it creates something beautiful out of exploring being (and heading) nowhere. At its worst, it unnecessarily strains against that definitionally limited narrative for the sense of scope and consequence Didion finds in her essays (leading to expositional 1st person passages in italics which add little but an ending, one we could have imagined just fine). Far more good than bad and more amazing than good, however, it’s a powerful book about powerlessness.

Two minutes in Silver Wells, two minutes here, two minutes there, it was going to be over in this bedroom in Encino, it could not last forever.

Comment / Posted in 2013, Fiction, Lies

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