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Santa Monica Reads Joan Didion's 'Where I Was From'
 

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By Lookout Staff

June 6, 2022 -- "Where I Was From," the late writer Joan Didion's "love song" to California, has been chosen to celebrate the 20th anniversay of Santa Monica Reads!

Published in 2003 -- the year after the Public Library launched its annual series focusing on a single book -- Didion's collection explores "the history and meaning" of her native state, library officials said.

The book combines history and reportage, memoir and literary criticism, to cover topics ranging from the Donner Party -- a group of pioneers who resorted to cannibalism while snowbound on their way to California -- to aerospace's role in the birth of suburbia.

"Where I Was From," according to the book jacket, "explores California's romances with land and water; its unacknowledged debts to railroads, aerospace, and big government; the disjunction between its code of individualism and its fetish for prisons."

The book by the author of the groundbreaking essay collections "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" and "The White Album," won glowing reviews for its mix of personal and public history.

In her review for The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani called the book "a love song to the place where her family has lived for generations, but a love song full of questions and doubts.”

“This is a book about history" Malcolm Jones wrote in Newsweek, "about what we learn from genealogy and history books, novels and old newspapers, and how we square all that with what we see around us.”

Community discussions -- held both in person and online -- kick off on June 30 at 6 p.m. in the Main Library Courtyard.

Additional discussions take place July 7 at 6 p.m. at the Pico Branch Library Annex, July 16 at 11 a.m. and July 21 at 6 p.m. at the Montana Branch Library Patio.

There will be two author events in the Main Library Courtyard, starting on July 6 at 6 p.m. with Cultural critic David Ulin, editor of the Library of America editions of Didion’s work.

Ulin, the author of "Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles," will engage in conversation with novelist Laila Lalami, a Moroccan-American novelist, essayist and professor who lives in LA.

On August 6 at 3 p.m., Several contributors to the anthology "Slouching Towards Los Angeles: Living and Writing by Joan Didion’s Light," will appear with editor Steffie Nelson.

Free copies of the book and the Resource Guide are available starting June 4, while supplies last. Copies of the book, ebook and audiobook-on-CD are also available to borrow.

For more information call (310) 458-8600 or email library@santamonica.gov.


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