South and West (audiobook)

From a Notebook

Foreword written and read by Nathaniel Rich
2.9 hrs • 3 CDs • Unabridged
Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography
Target Audience: Adult
Release Date: 03/07/17
Library CD Library Edition CD titles are packaged in an attractive, full-sized, durable vinyl case with full color art. Cloth Sleeves keep compact discs protected and in numerical order. 
- 03/07/17 9780525494188
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A New York Times Bestseller

Time Magazine Pick of Most Anticipated Books of 2017

An Amazon Best Book of the Month for March 2017

LitHub Pick

New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice

From the bestselling author of the National Book Award-winning The Year of Magical Thinking comes two extended excerpts from her never-before-seen notebooks,writings that offer an illuminating glimpse into the mind and process of a legendary writer.

Joan Didion has always kept notebooks: of overheard dialogue, observations, interviews, drafts of essays and articles—and here is one such draft that traces a road trip she took with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, in June 1970, through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

She interviews prominent local figures, describes motels, diners, a deserted reptile farm, a visit with Walker Percy, a ladies’ brunch at the Mississippi Broadcasters’ Convention. She writes about the stifling heat, the almost viscous pace of life, the sulfurous light, and the preoccupation with race, class, and heritage that she finds in the small towns they pass through.

And from a different notebook come the “California Notes” that began as an assignment from Rolling Stone on the Patty Hearst trial of 1976. Though Didion never wrote the piece, watching the trial and being in San Francisco triggered thoughts about the city, its social hierarchy, the Hearsts, and her own upbringing in Sacramento. Here, too, is the beginning of her thinking about the West, its landscape, the western women who were heroic for her, and her own lineage, all of which would appear later in her acclaimed 2003 book, Where I Was From.

Review Quotes

“Narrator Kimberly Farr dissolves the barrier between author and listener, creating an intimate atmosphere. Her unforced performance conveys Didion’s unguarded reactions to life in the South, primarily in 1970. Farr enlivens Didion’s recollections, highlighting the author’s curiosity about the people she meets and the conversations she overhears as well as her uneasiness both in backwoods communities in rural Mississippi and at social gatherings in New Orleans’ Garden District. When Didion reflects on her native California, Farr’s tone lightens, underscoring the author’s comfort at being in familiar territory. This collection of unedited notebook entries emphasizes the sociocultural differences between the Gulf Coast and the West Coast, most of which still ring true decades later. Essayist Nathaniel Rich reads his own foreword to the audiobook.”


“You’ll learn more about America’s future from Didion’s forty-year-old field notes…than you will from tomorrow’s newspaper.”


“The author at her most fascinatingly unfiltered…Captures the thrill of a writer discovering her richest subject: the American mythologies that governed her own romantic girlhood.”