Joan Didion

What We're Reading Now: SOUTH AND WEST by Joan Didion

Joan Didion’s South and West, published in 2017, is a slim volume excerpted from Didion’s notes during two periods—one in 1970, on a roadtrip in the American South, and another in 1976, around the Patty Hearst trial.

“The idea was to start in New Orleans and from there we had no plan.” This book of essays sends the reader right back to the 70s, with Didion on the road or at the writing desk, yet there’s a sense of timelessness, as if the era these notes were written in wasn’t half-a-century from this. While the pieces Didion may have intended to write in the 70s didn’t pan out, the notes left from each period paint clearly snapshots of both times with full force of Didion’s shrewd yet dispassionate eye for detail.