The White Album

Joan Didion

WE TELL OURSELVES STORIES IN ORDER TO LIVE

Looking for plausible stories as the Sixties are about to implode, Joan Didion sets out, notebook in hand, on a now-legendary journey into the hinterland of the American psyche: she kills time waiting for Jim Morrison to show up, parties with Janis Joplin, visits the Black Panthers in prison, watches a campus combust, dines with Tate and Polanski, buys dresses with Charlie Manson’s girls, and gravitates towards biker movies ‘because there on screen was some news I was not getting from the New York Times’. She and her reader emerge, cauterized, from this devastating tour of the myths and realities of that age of self-discovery into the harsh light of the morning after…

Reviews of The White Album

  • ‘All the essays manifest not only her intelligence but an instinct for details that continue to emit pulsations in the reader’s memory, and a style that is spare, subtly musical in its phrasing, and exact. Add to this her highly vulnerable sense of herself, and the result is a voice like no other in contemporary journalism.’
    NEW YORK TIMES

    ‘Demonstrates an uncanny ability to capture the insidious and pervasive infections of mind and spirit that have led to both the corruption of government and business, and the withering of the individual.’
    CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

    ‘Everything Didion writes has a land’s end edginess to it – a hyperattentive eye on the dramas found at the outskirts of the human condition. She writes as someone who has come through great shudders of the earth with a fundamental understanding that everything is subject to instantaneous and complete revision.’
    VILLAGE VOICE

    ‘She is the best chronicler California has’
    VOGUE

    ‘Simply an original and unexpected writer who is never banal’
    NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS