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Miami

Overview

It is where Fidel Castro raised money to overthrow Batista and where two generations of Castro's enemies have raised armies to overthrow him, so far without success. It is where the bitter opera of Cuban exile intersects with the cynicism of U.S. foreign policy. It is a city whose skyrocketing murder rate is fueled by the cocaine trade, racial discontent, and an undeclared war on the island ninety miles to the south.

As Didion follows Miami's drift into a Third World capital, ...

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Overview

It is where Fidel Castro raised money to overthrow Batista and where two generations of Castro's enemies have raised armies to overthrow him, so far without success. It is where the bitter opera of Cuban exile intersects with the cynicism of U.S. foreign policy. It is a city whose skyrocketing murder rate is fueled by the cocaine trade, racial discontent, and an undeclared war on the island ninety miles to the south.

As Didion follows Miami's drift into a Third World capital, she also locates its position in the secret history of the Cold War, from the Bay of Pigs to the Reagan doctrine and from the Kennedy assassination to the Watergate break-in. Miami is not just a portrait of a city, but a masterly study of immigration and exile, passion, hypocrisy, and political violence.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Her prose is . . . finely tuned . . . . [Miami] turns much sunny light into a murky underwater darkness full of sharks and evil shadows." —The New York Times

"Didion's Miami is a kaleidoscope of impressions, and a litany of violence, intrigue, vengeance, political manipulation, and broken dreams." —Boston Globe

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
...Her prose is so finely tuned to paranoia that it persuades without validating. One comes away from Miami as if from a horror film, starting at the lightest movement. But it's more with the mood of her prose than its facts that Ms. Didion has turned so much sunny light into a murky underwater darkness full of sharks and evil shadows. -- The New York Times
James Chace
The world Ms. Didion describes in beautifully evocative prose is...a world of menace and elliptical connections.
The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW reported that Didion's style, ``while it suffers overload, will delight her readers as she swims in the mainstream of the growing run of `Miami' books.'' She portrays today's Miami as a hotbed of conspiracy and endless meetings among wealthy Cuban-Americans plotting Castro's overthrow.
Library Journal
To Didion, contemporary Miami is a ``tropical capital'' closer in ambiance to Caracas or Bogota than Atlanta or Boston, a city shaped by the Cuban community and its dominating exile mentality. The objective here, however, is not so much a profile of the city as a political analysis of the Miami Cuban minda mind, we are told, that remains obsessed with el exilio (the exile), la lucha (the struggle), and a deep and bitter sense of betrayal of the expatriate cause by the U.S. government from Kennedy to Reagan. As in her earlier Salvador, Didion brings the novelist's ear and journalist's eye to her work. The result is a masterful polemic. -- Kenneth F. Kister, Pinellas Park Public Library
Library Journal
To Didion, contemporary Miami is a ``tropical capital'' closer in ambiance to Caracas or Bogota than Atlanta or Boston, a city shaped by the Cuban community and its dominating exile mentality. The objective here, however, is not so much a profile of the city as a political analysis of the Miami Cuban minda mind, we are told, that remains obsessed with el exilio (the exile), la lucha (the struggle), and a deep and bitter sense of betrayal of the expatriate cause by the U.S. government from Kennedy to Reagan. As in her earlier Salvador, Didion brings the novelist's ear and journalist's eye to her work. The result is a masterful polemic. -- Kenneth F. Kister, Pinellas Park Public Library
James Chace
The world Mis Didion describes in beautifully evocative prose is...a world of menace and elliptical connections. -- The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679781806
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 273,800
  • Product dimensions: 5.21 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.49 (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

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