Her prose takes your breath away with it’s descriptive beauty. Regardless of the subject matter, it's so easy to get lost in her words. She tells each person's story without condemning or praising their belief system.
"She does try, perhaps unconsciously, to hang on to the innocence and turbulence and capacity for wonder, however ersatz or shallow, of her own or of anyone's adolescence."
I felt like the essays on Didion's personal life and experiences were a little stronger than the rest. There was also a story that opens the book, "Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream," that really stayed with me. It's about a woman convicted on murdering her husband in a burning car. It was a haunting tale, as so many things are in Didion's hands. Even a trip to the tropical isles of Hawaii becomes a morose reflection for her.
"Las Vegas is the most extreme and allegorical of American settlements, bizarre and beautiful in its venality and in its devotion to immediate gratification."
One of my favorite pieces in the book is about how we change when we return to our childhood homes. Our personalities revert back to the roles we took on within our family dynamic. Our spouses often can’t understand the strained relationships or odd attachments that we have with the place and the people there.
“I had by all objective accounts a ‘normal’ and a ‘happy’ family situation, and yet I was almost thirty years old before I could talk to my family on the telephone without crying after I had hung up. We did not fight. Nothing was wrong. And yet some nameless anxiety colored the emotional charges between me and the place I came from.”
BOTTOM LINE: As with most short story collections, not every single piece was my favorite, but with a writer like Didion you’re sure to find some gems. Didion conveys moods and feelings with such incredible talent and this collection is one of her best.
“I have said that the trip back is difficult, and it is – difficult in a way that magnifies the ordinary ambiguities of sentimental journeys.”
"Innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself."