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Let Me Tell You What I Mean de Joan Didion
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Let Me Tell You What I Mean (edição: 2021)

de Joan Didion (Autor)

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1715126,540 (4.02)10
Membro:eloeffelman
Título:Let Me Tell You What I Mean
Autores:Joan Didion (Autor)
Informação:Knopf (2021), 192 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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Let Me Tell You What I Mean de Joan Didion

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Exibindo 5 de 5
Essays, 1970s, 1980s ( )
  Suzanne.speterson | Aug 15, 2021 |
I close every Didion chapter, in every Joan Didion book, with the thought, "This is one of the best books I've read this year." And this is one of the best best books I've read this year. I have pared down my collection of books owned, to live more lightly, but this I will buy to reread. ( )
  Laura400 | Aug 8, 2021 |
I have been anxiously waiting for this slim volume of twelve Didion essays to be released for some time. Half of them are from 1968, some are from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, and the most recent one was from 2000. When it comes to Didion, vintage Didion is still well worth waiting for. Her essays are so well written that I never find then dated, as they are always thoughtful and engaging. The book’s excellent foreword is written by Hilton Als and is a fine refresher of things Didion, and leads the reader right into her wide-ranging essays.

The beginning line of her first essay, “Alicia and the Underground Press,” instantly informs any unfamiliar reader to the opinionated style of Didion. “The only American newspapers that do not leave me in the grip of a profound physical conviction that the oxygen has been cut off from my brain tissue …” [She then goes on to list them.] I love how she just puts it out there.

In the essay “A Trip to Xanadu,” she describes William Randolph Hearst’s fabled estate as representing California to many as a vision “floating fantastically just above the coastal fog; San Simeon was a place which, once seen from the highway [Highway 1 near San Luis Obispo], was ever in the mind.” “San Simeon seemed to confirm the boundless promise of the place we lived.” And after describing what the estate once was, and what it is now as a tourist attraction, she closes the piece with the following line. “Make a place available to the eyes, and in certain ways it is no longer available to the imagination.” That was the very thought running through my mind when we toured the estate several years ago, it was the same place, but it wasn’t.

She writes of being crushed when she received a rejection letter from Stanford University in the spring of 1952. She ended up at UC-Berkeley, and when she wrote a paper for a friend going to Stanford and also used the very same paper for one of her own Berkeley classes, she had a rush of feelings when her work got an A at Stanford, and only a B- at Berkeley. Another essay deals with her intriguing interview with Nancy Reagan. “Pretty Nancy” walks an interesting route around the personal and the political.

In her “Why I Write” piece, there’s a part of it when she describes herself at that point in her life as “no legitimate resident in any world of ideas. I knew I couldn’t think. All I knew was what I couldn’t do. All I knew then was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was. Which was a writer.” She also wrote about being absolutely fascinated starting at age twelve with the writing craft of the first paragraph of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. She follows her discussion of those 126 short words that she studied for years, to writing about Hemingway’s writing career and the significance of his posthumous works.

The last essay was titled “Everywoman.com” and was a long piece about Martha Stewart that appeared in The New Yorker in 2000. After telling of Stewart’s business history, Didion pointed out that Stewart owns her own magazine, her own show, and owns her own corporation in her own name. She then finishes the piece with the following. “The dreams and fears into which Martha Stewart taps are not of “feminine” domesticity but of female power, of the woman who sits down at the table with the men and, still in her apron, walks away with the chips.”

Didion’s writing has not only such an intelligence to it, but you often sense her tongue in her cheek, and can easily imagine that she finished some of these essays with a bemused smile on her face. I’m not as familiar with her novels—which I’ll be reading soon—but I find her nonfiction writing just stellar, even when she writes on topics that I started reading with no interest at all. It reminds me of my decades of hand selling John McPhee’s books, titles like Oranges, which I sold with a money-back guarantee if they weren’t drawn into it. [FYI: there was never a McPhee refund.] Reading is beautifully rewarding when you find those writers that always connect with something in yourself. That’s what helps keep many of us readers going. ( )
1 vote jphamilton | Mar 10, 2021 |
As of writing, the only other review is from one Glenn Garvin, who woefully mischaracterizes the book as "Old, mostly pedestrian, essays." (Though, to be fair to him, he doesn't sound like much of a fan to begin with.) This is only my second Didion book, my first being Slouching Toward Bethlehem. Let Me Tell You What I Mean is fairly unique among collections of the previously uncollected in that the material in this book is high-quality. It is rather slim and small, with diffuse pages, but each one as interesting and well-written as anything else Joan Didion has put together. There is certainly less connective tissue throughout, compared to her other works (which at least tend to follow themes in certain sections), but that does not make the book any lesser-than. An invested reader could easily finish this book in an afternoon. My favorite pieces were "Why I Write," "Telling Stories," and "Last Words." ( )
2 vote AuroraCH | Feb 25, 2021 |
Old, mostly pedestrian, essays. There's one piece about not getting into Stanford and having to settle for Cal that's kind of interesting if you went to one of those two schools. But mostly this book reinforces the belief that Joan Didion didn't write anything of value after "Slouching Toward Bethlehem" in 1967.
  GlennGarvin | Jan 30, 2021 |
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