Wednesday, May 20, 2020

South and West: From a Notebook (2017) by Joan Didion. COVID-19 Recreational Reading

South and West: From a Notebook (2017) by Joan Didion

The non-fiction work of Joan Didion is one of my go-to reads. I recently completed the brief South and West. The work is based on the notebooks she kept of her travels in the US South and her native West (Northern California). I think her work resonates with me as a fellow Californian (growing up between the Pacific breakers and the snowy Sierra Nevada) who leaves the West to go "Back East" to live. South and West has an unfinished feel (some of the  chapters appear in more polished form in other collections), but Didion's brilliant, "cool" (in the Marshal McLuhan sens) prose is always a pleasure:
"Part of it is simply what looks right to the eye, sounds right to the ear. I am at home in the West. The hills of the coastal ranges look 'right' to me, the particular flat expanse of the Central Valley comforts my eye. The place names have the ring of real places to me. I can pronounce the names of the rivers, and recognize the common trees and snakes. I am easy here in a way that I am not easy in other places."

No comments: