Democracy

( 5 )

Overview

Inez Victor knows that the major casualty of the political life is memory. But the people around Inez have made careers out of losing track. Her senator husband wants to forget the failure of his last bid for the presidency. Her husband's handler would like the press to forget that Inez's father is a murderer. And, in 1975, the year in which much of this bitterly funny novel is set, America is doing its best to lose track of its one-time client, the lethally hemorrhaging republic of South Vietnam.As conceived by ...
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Democracy

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Overview

Inez Victor knows that the major casualty of the political life is memory. But the people around Inez have made careers out of losing track. Her senator husband wants to forget the failure of his last bid for the presidency. Her husband's handler would like the press to forget that Inez's father is a murderer. And, in 1975, the year in which much of this bitterly funny novel is set, America is doing its best to lose track of its one-time client, the lethally hemorrhaging republic of South Vietnam.As conceived by Joan Didion, these personages and events constitute the terminal fallout of democracy, a fallout that also includes fact-finding junkets, senatorial groupies, the international arms market, and the Orwellian newspeak of the political class. Moving deftly from Honolulu to Jakarta, between romance, farce, and tragedy, Democracy is a tour de force from a writer who can dissect an entire society with a single phrase.

Moving between Honolulu, Jakarta and Saigon, against the historical backdrop of the final withdrawal from Vietnam, this novel is a bitingly funny, cumulatively devastating post-mortem of our national mores and institutions. A U.S. Senator, his wife, senatorial groupies and international arms dealing intersect with one another in this blistering indictment of American amnesia.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A gem . . . a beautifully composed story that moves with effortless authority and becomes astonishingly moving. . . . Stirring and memorable." —Newsday"Striking, provocative, and brilliantly written." —The Atlantic
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679754855
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1995
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 234
  • Sales rank: 225,563
  • Lexile: 1130L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.65 (d)

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.

Biography

One of the strongest voices in American letters, Joan Didion has made her mark with fiercely intelligent novels (Play It As It Lays, A Book of Common Prayer), insightful nonfiction (Salvador, Political Fictions), and screenplays co-written with her late husband, John Gregory Dunne (Panic in Needle Park, Up Close and Personal).

Born in Sacramento, Didion attended the University of California at Berkeley, graduating in 1956 with a degree in English. After college, she moved to New York to work for Vogue magazine. Recognized immediately as a talented and insightful writer, she contributed frequently to such diverse publications as Mademoiselle, Esquire, The New York Times, and National Review; and in 1963 she published her first novel, Run River. She and Dunne were wed in 1964; and for the remainder of their married life, they divided their time between New York and L.A., collaborating frequently on Hollywood scripts while developing separate and distinguished literary careers.

In December of 2003, Dunne died of a massive heart attack, while the couple's recently married daughter, Quintana Roo, lay comatose in a New York hospital. Didion spent the next year blindsided by a grief so profound it propelled her into a sort of madness. She chronicled the entire experience in The Year of Magical Thinking, a spellbinding memoir of bereavement written in the spare, elegant prose that has become a hallmark of her work. Published in 2005 (scant months after Quintana's death), this elegiac book -- Didion's most personal and affecting work to date -- became a huge bestseller. It received a National Book Award and was turned, two years later, into a successful Broadway play starring Vanessa Redgrave.

Since her 1963 debut, Didion has alternated between novels and nonfiction, proving herself a wry and astute observer of America's shifting political and cultural landscape. Written nearly a decade apart, her two essay collections Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968) and The White Album (1979) are considered classics of 1960s counterculture. Moreover, the author's identity as a seventh-generation Californian has colored her writing in profoundly significant ways. For our money, no contemporary American writer has examined more deftly the unique role of "place" in everyday life.

Good To Know

A few interesting outtakes from our interview with Didion:

"My first (and only, ever) job was at Vogue. I learned a great deal there – I learned how to use words economically (because I was writing to space), I learned how to very quickly take in enough information about an entirely foreign subject to produce a few paragraphs that at least sounded authoritative."

"I would like my readers to know that writing never gets any easier. You don't gain confidence. You are always flying blind."

Didion and her husband, John Gregory Dunne, co-wrote seven screenplays, including: The Panic in Needle Park (1971), Play It As It Lays (1973), A Star Is Born (1977), True Confessions (1982), Hills Like White Elephants (1990), Broken Trust(1995) and Up Close and Personal (1995).

She is the sister-in-law of author Dominick Dunne and the aunt of actor/director Griffin Dunne.

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

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2005

    One of my Top Five Favorites

    This is a beautifully written and cleverly crafted story. Didion's storytelling style is unique and quickly becomes engrossing. This is a must read!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2001

    Democracy: Mistitled but solid.

    i thought this book was constructed very choppy, and sort of hard to follow. But the premise ends up making sense to the reader. The story is a sorted tale of a U.S. Senator's wife and her family and 'friends'. She is the center of public attention and a lush at all the social functions. There is a hidden clue that Inez, the wife, has a taste for painters in her life and is the rumor weed in the New York high life. I had to read this for a Government class, but i found no Democracy in it at all as the title would prove false. The story is loosely based on the Vietnam war ending but has no direct link to the war or it's happenings. I thought novel as a whole was crafty in title to attract readers and kept them with the love story that was witty and scandelous.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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