(Review) Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion


Publisher and Publication Date: Open Road Media. 2017.
Genre: Essays.
Pages: 256.
Source: Library.
Rating: Excellent.


Slouching Towards Bethlehem marks the third book I’ve read by Joan Didion. The other books are Blue Nights, South and West From a Notebook. I’ve a fourth book to read, from the library, The White Album.

The following link is a list of Didion’s books on Goodreads.

The official site for Joan Didion.

I’d seen the name Joan Didion. I knew she was an author. I’d not been motivated to read her books till a Netflix episode came on about her life. Now, she’s a favorite.

The essays were written in 1965, 1966, and 1967.

The book is in three parts.
Life Styles In The Golden Land.
Seven Places Of The Mind.

I love essay writings. Not because they’re brief. But one of the goals is to hold my attention in order to share the candid perspective of an event.
What stands out to me the most about Didion’s writings is, it’s as if she is sitting next to me, and, telling me the story of what she’s seen and experienced. Her writings are personal. And they are straight-forward. She does not write with an agenda to prick my heart. She does not write with words to entice me to believe a certain way. She shares observations, conversations, and the thoughts and feelings she had while experiencing these memories. I love this!
My favorites from this book:
“Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream.” This is the story about love and death. I didn’t expect an essay on a woman accuses of murdering her husband. And, it’s the first essay in the book.
“John Wayne: A Love Song.” This essay is shared from the love of going to John Wayne films as a kid. Later, a quote stayed with her, “At the bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow.” This is a beautiful piece. It’s innocent and nostalgic and romantic.
In part two of the book. “Personals.” “On Keeping Notebook.” I saw a bit of her personality through this essay. She never been able to keep a diary, even though she is a writer. She wonders why she keeps a notebook and what it means. Is it about something else entirely?
“On Self-Respect.” This essay is my favorite. I love to think and ponder. This is a good essay to turn over in my mind.
A favorite quote:

To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference. Page 147.


One thought on “(Review) Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.