It’s no secret that Joan Didion is one of my all time favorite authors. She has been inspiring me for years with her writing. It had been some time since I read one of her works, so I decided to change that. Where I Was From is a nod to Didion’s homeland, California.
It is an examination of how the state came to be, way back when, all the way to current times. Well up until the book was published in 2003. California has most likely drastically changed even since then.
One difference between the West and the South, I came to realize in 1970, was this: in the South they remained convinced that they had bloodied their land with history. In California we did not believe that history could bloody the land, or even touch it.
Something I’ve always admired about Didion’s writing is her ability to step back and just observe. She writes what she sees. It’s refreshing to have that kind of perspective.
Didion explores what it meant to have her family migrate to California in the 19th century, wagons and ranches included. She discusses the beginning struggles and how the land transformed into what it is today.
The past could be jettisoned . . . but seeds got carried.
Now I didn’t particularly set out to learn so much about the history of how California came to be, but I can say I feel well versed now. Honestly I appreciated more of the dedication Didion has to where she was from (did I work the title in there well?). I was left with the impression that she cared deeply about California and what it meant to her. The melancholy of her prose pulls me in every time.
I closed the box and put it in a closet.
There is no real way to deal with everything we lose.