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The Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion

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  • Amy

    I wasn't quite on my feet enough to attend, but I hope everyone else had a great time. I can't wait to see you all next time around. :)

    January 16, 2013

  • David S.

    Polly had the best summary: this book was poetry or like poetry with many interpretations and paths.
    Peter, congratulations on your first year as leader. Great job . . . as always.

    January 10, 2013

  • Peter

    A beautifully written book with an interesting take on the American cultural evolution during the 60s and 70s that has some continuing resonance today.

    January 9, 2013

  • Christine

    Am I bringing book suggestions for this date or was it next one? I thought I remembered volunteering but think its not for this one but wanted to be sure.

    December 30, 2012

    • Peter

      Christine, Something has now triggered some of my sleeping brain cells and I believe that I actually agreed to proffer some choices at the Jan 9th meeting and you were going to do the meeting on Jan 30th! Hope that's okay with you. See you next week.

      December 31, 2012

    • Christine

      Sounds good! Thanks!

      January 1, 2013

  • Charles H.

    No one's ever called Joan a humorist, to my knowledge. But there multiple ways of seeing her books. Depressing. You mean the beastly but bright men and their abuse of Charlotte? Or that everybody's got cancer? Or that Marin is a perverted, rich creep, or totally lost, depending on how much slack you want to cut her? Actually, Leonard and Warren's dialogs are funny, although generally intended to hurt Charlotte, and the utterly dysfunctional Strasser-Mendoza trust fund babies, except Gerardo, are cute in their empty-headed waiting for Grace to die. Sort of like Daisy and Tom Buchanan in Gatsby except that Tom and Daisy already have their money and it's America-sized wealth, not the lesser, Boca Grandean-scale. Then there's politics, true to life south of the border. You have to love the planned revolutions where the "winner" is pre-selected by the elite. Maybe it will help to watch Grace's opinion of Charlotte; it changes, and there's the story.

    December 31, 2012

  • Amy

    OY! This book is so depressing!!

    December 30, 2012

  • Charles H.

    Part V of a V-part post. To enjoy books is one thing, to enjoy superb writing quite another. If you can make time to read Didion aloud, and if you take time to observe that many commas disappeared in her essays between 1965 and 1970, and catch the cadence of her repetitions and falling (often heart-breaking or heart-stopping line endings), your mind will grow more observant and you will be back in a time when books and writing were the media. But you might be better off not to compare the quality of the work in each era and draw from that any comparative conclusions about which world you want, because the world Joan Didion grew up in is gone. --ch--

    Computers and the people who make rules for their use: 140 words are plenty, what can you not say in 140 words? Hence the 5-part post, which I hope some of you will feel moved to cut and reassemble and print and enter into a world of book stacks and magazine racks, when one whispered in libraries, if one said anything at all.

    1 · December 4, 2012

    • Peter

      Thanks Charles. Great post! I haven't started the book yet but it made me want to get to it immediately.

      December 5, 2012

  • Charles H.

    Part IV of a V-Paart post. We went three and four afternoons a week, sat on folding chairs in the darkened Quonset hut which served as a theater, and it was there, that summer of 1943 while the hot wind blew outside, that I first saw John Wayne. Saw the walk, heard the voice. Heard him tell the girl in a picture called War of the Wildcats that he would build her a house "at the bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow." As it happened I did not grow up to be the kind of woman who is the heroine in a Western, and although the men I have known have had many virtues and have taken me to live in many places I have come to love, they have never been John Wayne and they have never taken me to that bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow. Deep in that part of my heart where the artificial rain forever falls, that is still the line I wait to hear. 1965

    December 4, 2012

  • Charles H.

    Part III of a IV-part post. And from "John Wayne: A love Song,"

    In the summer of 1943 I was eight, and my father and mother and small brother and I were at Peterson Field in Colorado Springs. A hot wind blew through that summer, blew until it seemed that before August broke, all the dust in Kansas would be in Colorado, would have drifted over the tar-paper barracks and stopped only when it hit Pikes Peak. There was not much to do, a summer like that: there was the day they brought in the first B-29, and event to remember but scarcely a vacation program. There was an Officer's Club, but no swimming pool; all the Officer's Club had of interest was artificial blue rain behind the bar. The rain interested me a good deal, but I could not spend the summer watching it, and so we went, my brother and I, to the movies.

    December 4, 2012

  • Charles H.

    Part II of a IV-part post.


    What I have made for myself is personal, but is not exactly peace. Only one person I knew at Berkeley later discovered an ideology, dealt himself into history, cut himself loose from both his own dread and his own time. A few of the people I knew at Berkeley killed themselves not long after. Another attempted suicide in Mexico, and then, in a recovery which seemed in many ways a more advanced derangement, came home and joined the Bank of America's three-year executive training program. Most of us live less theatrically, but remain the survivors of a peculiar and inward time. If I could believe that going to a barricade would affect man's fate in the slightest I would go to that barricade, and quite often I wish that I could, but it would be less than honest to say that I expect to happen upon such a happy ending. 1970

    December 4, 2012

  • Charles H.

    Part I of a III-part post.

    Born December 5, 1934, Joan Didion became prominent as an essayist. This is from her 2nd collection of essays, The White Album, published 1979, the last paragraph of "Morning after the Sixties."

    As it worked out I did not find or even look for the little town with the decent beach. I sat in the large bare apartment in which I lived my junior and senior years (I had lived awhile in a sorority, the Tri Delt House, and had left it, typically, not over any "issue" but because I, the implacable "I," did not like living with sixty people) and I read Camus and Henry James and I watched a flowering plum come in and out of blossom and at night, most nights, I walked outside and looked up to where the cyclotron and the bevatron glowed on the dark hillside, unspeakable mysteries which engaged me, in the style of my time, only personally. Later I got out of Berkeley and went to New York and later I got out of New York and came to Los Angeles.

    December 4, 2012

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