Joan Didion is much smarter than me.
Which maybe isn’t such a shock to any of you. But that’s one theme that kept popping up while reading this book. And it stems entirely from my inability to keep up with the hundreds of names, dates, locations, and storylines she references throughout the book, weaving them together with no apparent structure.
Our Readers Guild (pictured above) was intrigued by her choice of title – why isn’t this book about where she is from? The best answer we came up with, that she acknowledges the level of mythology inherent in any reflection on our own history, also explains many themes in the book – we have a history of deceiving ourselves about our homes, our families, and even our own stories.
I think the portion of the book I’ll take with me is her telling of all those who travel West seeking some ready-made dream land, only to find a bunch of wide-eyed idiots looking for the same thing. She calls them “a community of irresponsible strangers.” This is a definition that could be applied to many communities, and I think it’s one we can – and should – work against.