Slouching Towards Bethlehem Book Review
Slouching Towards Bethlehem was author Joan Didion's first nonfiction piece, published in 1968. More currently she has published memoirs, A Year Of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights. All her publications are very personal and come back to the same underlying theme of individual cracks and social discontinuities. More specifically in Slouching Towards Bethlehem Joan Didion writes single essays as chapters that tell about different events of growing up from her past. Furthermore, I would certainly recommend this book to anyone looking for a personalized style of nonfiction. One of the best things about this collection is that Didion touches on so many different subjects by having a collection of short stories. The positive to this is almost every interest can be covered in one of the stories.
Each of the essays shares something new about the background of Didion's life, growing up in California primarily through the 1960's. She gives insight into the life, culture, and geography of the land in California, not holding back in any of her descriptions. For example, Didion starts off Slouching Towards Bethlehem with the story of Lucille Miller and the murder trial of her husband. Gordon Miller, Lucille's husband, was killed in a driving accident. One night the couple was on their way home from the market when their Volkswagen pulled sharply off road. Gordon was sleeping in the passenger seat when all this was taking place. The crash resulted in a fire that Lucille escapes, but her husband did not. After the police arrived they further investigated the accident. Suspicion arose that Lucille actually planned killing her husband, by drugging him, pouring gasoline on the car, and then attempting to get it to explode by rolling it over an embankment. I'm not going to give away the verdict, but let's just say this is just one of many interesting stories Joan Didion chooses to include.
Each chapter, whether it be a personal story, like her meeting JFK, or just an event like the absurd Vegas wedding she witnessed, gives insight on Didion's views. Each particular story is in this collection for a reason. Each story gives a closer look at what Didion stands for and her opinions on all different subject matters. From topics such as self-respect and morals to how to keep a notebook, there is an interest in this book for everyone. All of Didion's stories provide extravagant detail, which sets the reader up for a thought-provoking read, but with a reward of exceptional essays.