Fixed Ideas: America since 9.11

Overview

In Fixed Ideas Joan Didion describes how, since September 11, 2001, there has been a determined effort by the administration to promote an imperial America—a "New Unilateralism"—and how, in many parts of America, there is now a "disconnect" between the government and citizens.

"[Americans] recognized even then [immediately after 9/11], with flames still visible in lower Manhattan, that the words 'bipartisanship' and 'national unity' had come to mean acquiescence to the ...

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Overview

In Fixed Ideas Joan Didion describes how, since September 11, 2001, there has been a determined effort by the administration to promote an imperial America—a "New Unilateralism"—and how, in many parts of America, there is now a "disconnect" between the government and citizens.

"[Americans] recognized even then [immediately after 9/11], with flames still visible in lower Manhattan, that the words 'bipartisanship' and 'national unity' had come to mean acquiescence to the administration's preexisting agenda—for example the imperative for further tax cuts, the necessity for Arctic drilling, the systematic elimination of regulatory and union protections, even the funding for the missile shield."

Frank Rich in his preface notes: "The reassuring point of the fixed ideas was to suppress other ideas that might prompt questions or fears about either the logic or hidden political agendas of those conducting what CNN branded as 'America's New War.'"

He adds, "This White House is famously secretive and on-message, but its skills go beyond that. It knows the power of narrative, especially a single narrative with clear-cut heroes and evildoers, and it knows how to drown out any distracting subplots before they undermine the main story."

Book and cover design by Milton Glaser, Inc.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590170731
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 7/28/2003
  • Pages: 44
  • Sales rank: 812,580
  • Product dimensions: 5.65 (w) x 6.95 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Joan Didion
Distinguished novelist, essayist, and screenwriter Joan Didion has been called by James Dickey "the finest woman prose stylist writing in English today."

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

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