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After Henry
     

After Henry

4.0 1
by Joan Didion
 

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In her latest forays into the American scene, Joan Didion covers ground from Washington to Los Angeles, from a TV producer's gargantuan "manor" to the racial battlefields of New York's criminal courts. At each stop she uncovers the mythic narratives that elude other observers: Didion tells us about the fantasies the media construct around crime victims

Overview

In her latest forays into the American scene, Joan Didion covers ground from Washington to Los Angeles, from a TV producer's gargantuan "manor" to the racial battlefields of New York's criminal courts. At each stop she uncovers the mythic narratives that elude other observers: Didion tells us about the fantasies the media construct around crime victims and presidential candidates; she gives us new interpretations of the stories of Nancy Reagan and Patty Hearst; she charts America's rollercoaster ride through evanescent booms and hard times that won't go away. A bracing amalgam of skepticism and sympathy, After Henry is further proof of Joan Didion's infallible radar for the true spirit of our age.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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 well follow one of her paragraphs into hell."
Boston Globe

"[Didion's] reportorial pieces afford the pleasures of literature. . . . She is an expert geographer of the landscape of American public culture."
The New York Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
One of America's premier essayists discusses Patty Hearst, the Central Park ogger, the 1988 Hollywood writers' strike, Reagan and Bush. (May)
Library Journal
Eleven essays, mostly from the New York Review of Books and the New Yorker , are collected here in honor of Henry Robbins, an early, influential editor of Didion who died recently. The pieces zigzag through politics and the current events of the last decade, ranging from California to New York and taking aim at the power hungry, at sentimentality, at the manipulation of language. We see George Bush using a trip to Jordan as a ``photo-op'' to make him look like a man of action and reporters willing to do what politicans want in return for special privileges. The Bradley/Yaroslavsky mayoral race and the rape of a Central Park jogger lead Didion to discuss the characters of Los Angeles and New York City. Didion's journalistic essays are often considered her best writing, and this representative sample will be appreciated by readers who like newsworthy reading.-- Nancy Shires, East Carolina Univ., Greenville, N.C.
Kirkus Reviews
Didion's latest collection of previously published articles—her first since The White Album (1979)—reminds us that she's truly one of the premier essayists of our time. For all the disconnectedness she discerns throughout our public life, her prose, in its very complexity, beautifully plays against her subjects. In these pieces, mostly from The New York Review of Books and The New Yorker, Didion artfully points out the "chasm" between "actual life and its preferred narratives." Organized by place (Washington, D.C.; L.A.; New York), these carefully structured essays help define the culture of our cities, which is otherwise distorted by self-reference and a complicit media. Writing about Reagan-era tell-all books, Didion recasts the Great Communicator as the Fisher King, the keeper of the right-revolutionary grail. On the 1988 campaign trail, she watches a moveable "set," a series of staged events that reveal "contempt for outsiders" (i.e., average citizens). In California, Didion documents the "protective detachment" that's become part of the frontier legacy. Patty Hearst's survival instinct makes her a typical West Coast girl, as pragmatic as those who live with earthquake jitters. Narrative conflict emerges in Didion's account of the 1988 Screen Guild writers' strike, during which the industry's hierarchy reasserted itself. Likewise, the L.A. mayoral race of 1989 exposed the class and race struggles that everyone in that city would rather ignore. The longest piece here concerns the Central Park Jogger, "a sacrificial player in the sentimental narrative that is New York public life." Like her essay on the "Cotton Club" murder, this stunning bit of meta-analysis provesDidion's contention that every crime—to be of larger interest—needs "a story, a lesson, a high concept." When the theoretical clashes with the empirical, she says, narrative takes over, distorting, transforming, ameliorating. For Didion, truth is in the details, arranged so precisely in her seemingly candid prose. A collection to savor by a stylist in top form.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679745396
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/28/1993
Series:
Vintage International Series
Edition description:
1st Vintage International ed
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
896,078
Product dimensions:
5.13(w) x 7.94(h) x 0.63(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Joan Didion was born in California and lives in New York City. She is the author of five novels and seven previous books of nonfiction.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
December 5, 1934
Place of Birth:
Sacramento, California
Education:
B.A., University of California at Berkeley, 1956

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After Henry 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
DSizemore More than 1 year ago
Anyone who is a fan of Didion or enjoys journalistic reads should pick this book up. Didion's style is unique and worth looking at. Her description and attention to detail is present in all of the pieces in this book. Also, Didion pushes the limits and shows that journalists do not have to censor themselves and can push buttons when they want. She does a great job of handling controversial topics and looking for different angles on stories.