A memoir of land, family and perseverance from one of the most influential writers in America. In this moving and surprising book, Joan Didion reassesses parts of her life, her work, her history – and America’s. Where I Was From, in Didion’s words, represents an exploration into my own confusions about the place and the way in which I grew up, misapprehensions and misunderstandings so much a part of who I became that I can still to this day confront them only obliquely. The book is a haunting narrative of how her own family moved west with the frontier from the birth of her great-great-great-great-great-grandmother in Virginia in 1766 to the death of her mother on the edge of the Pacific in 2001; of how the wagon-train stories of hardship and abandonment and endurance created a culture in which survival would seem the sole virtue. Didion examines how the folly and recklessness in the very grain of the California settlement led to the California we know today – a state mortgaged first to the railroad, then to the aerospace industry, and overwhelmingly to the federal government. Joan Didion’s unerring sense of America and its spirit, her acute interpretation of its institutions and literature, and her incisive questioning of the stories it tells itself make this fiercely intelligent book a provocative and important tour de force from one of America’s greatest writers.
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