Pub Date 09 May 2017
Incisive essays on Patty Hearst and Reagan, the Central Park jogger and the Santa Ana winds, from the New York Times–bestselling author of South and West.
In these eleven essays covering the national scene from Washington, DC; California; and New York, the acclaimed author of Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album “capture[s] the mood of America” and confirms her reputation as one of our sharpest and most trustworthy cultural observers (The New York Times).
Whether dissecting the 1988 presidential campaign, exploring the commercialization of a Hollywood murder, or reporting on the “sideshows” of foreign wars, Joan Didion proves that she is one of the premier essayists of the twentieth century, “an articulate witness to the most stubborn and intractable truths of our time” (Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times Book Review). Highlights include “In the Realm of the Fisher King,” a portrait of the White House under the stewardship of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, two “actors on location;” and “Girl of the Golden West,” a meditation on the Patty Hearst case that draws an unexpected and insightful parallel between the kidnapped heiress and the emigrants who settled California. “Sentimental Journeys” is a deeply felt study of New York media coverage of the brutal rape of a white investment banker in Central Park, a notorious crime that exposed the city’s racial and class fault lines.
Dedicated to Henry Robbins, Didion’s friend and editor from 1966 until his death in 1979, After Henry is an indispensable collection of “superior reporting and criticism” from a writer on whom we have relied for more than fifty years “to get the story straight” (Los Angeles Times).
“Her intelligence is as honed as ever; her voice has its familiar ring, and her vision is ice-water clear. . . . Didion has captured the mood of America in these days of sullen tension and strife.” —The New York Times
“[Didion’s] reportorial pieces . . . afford the pleasures of literature. . . . [Her] strength is her sensibility, which is perfectly expressed by, and in some cases identical with, her style. Cool, precise, and ironic . . . She is an expert geographer of the landscape of American public culture.” —Hendrik Hertzberg, The New York Times Book Review
“Joan Didion has great instincts for metaphor. She can take an ordinary object . . . and make it as ominous as Hitchcock. . . . She’s writing truths about American culture in the sand at our feet. . . . With Didion leading, you could follow one of her paragraphs into hell.” —The Boston Globe
“In her first collection of essays since The White Album, Didion takes a look at the 1980s with her trademark style—at once languid and piercing—intact. . . . By venturing out of her familiar territory and into the complexities of national affairs, Didion proves that she is indeed one of America’s premier political observers.” —Publishers Weekly
“[After Henry] reminds us that [Didion is] truly one of the premier essayists of our time. . . . A collection to savor by a stylist in top form.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“[Takes] aim at the power hungry, at sentimentality, at the manipulation of language . . . Didion’s journalistic essays are often considered her best writing, and this representative sample will be appreciated by readers who like newsworthy reading.” —Library Journal