Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Joan Didion

Introduced and with a picture selection by Hilton Als

Joan Didion’s visceral view of 1960s America is told in her first collection of journalism, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, presented in a new edition by Folio. Introduction and image selection by Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Hilton Als.

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‘The great American writer Joan Didion... I remain grateful for the day I picked up Slouching Towards Bethlehem and realised that a woman could speak without hedging her bets, without hemming and hawing, without sounding pleasant or sweet, without deference, and even without doubt...I am part of a great army of women writers in her debt.’
Zadie Smith

Slouching Towards Bethlehem is Joan Didion's seminal essay collection in which she narrates the political and social climate of 1960s America through the unique lens that would soon establish her as a supreme chronicler of American life. In 20 crackingly sharp essays, Didion addresses the beauty, ugliness and fragility of the decade: the slippage of the Californian Dream; the hippy counterculture of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco; the recent case of a California suburban housewife who, one night when they ran out of milk, set fire to her husband; a Las Vegas wedding chapel; a millionaire bunkered in his mansion, and a handful of personal pieces including musings about returning home to Sacramento for a family visit and a beautiful elegy for her younger self on first going to live in New York.

Bound in blocked textured paper printed with a portrait of Joan Didion by Don Bachardy 

Set in Kennerley with Windsor as display 

280 pages 

18 pages of illustrations 

Ribbon marker 

Plain slipcase 

8¾˝ x 5½˝  

Printed in Germany

'What I wanted to do with this illustrated version of her text was to sharpen our eyes to what Joan already saw all those years ago in California, in New York, out in the world: our dreams turned to dust and flowers growing in the dust.'
  1. Hilton Als, from his introduction

Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and art curator, Hilton Als, has selected unusual, unexpected and inspiring images that present a wonderful portrait of Didion and her times. Images include photography by Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand, as well as paintings, watercolours and photos of Didion herself. Hilton Als has also contributed an introductory essay on Didion's work and a new foreword in which he writes about how he brought together words and images to create this unique edition.

Part I: Life Styles in the Golden Land 

Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream  

John Wayne: A Love Song  

Where the Kissing Never Stops  

Comrade Laski, C.P.U.S.A. (M.-L.)  

7000 Romaine, Los Angeles 38      

California Dreaming  

Marrying Absurd  

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Part II: Personals 

On Keeping a Notebook  

On Self-Respect  

I Can’t Get That Monster Out of My Mind  

On Morality  

On Going Home

Part III: Seven Places of the Mind 

Notes from a Native Daughter  

Letter from Paradise, 21° 19ʹ N., 157° 52ʹ W.  

Rock of Ages  

The Seacoast of Despair  

Guaymas, Sonora  

Los Angeles Notebook  

Goodbye to All That

About Joan Didion

Joan Didion (1934–2021) was an American novelist, essayist and journalist whose career began at Vogue in the 1950s and who became internationally renowned for investigating the dark, dangerous currents of the 1960s counterculture, in magazine pieces collected as Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album. Later she wrote about other subjects, including Latin America and American politics, as well as an acclaimed memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking; her novels, too, are classics of modern American fiction, particularly Play As it Lays. Among many other honours, Didion was presented with the National Humanities Medal by President Obama and she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN.

About Hilton Als

Hilton Als is a Pulitzer Prize-winning staff writer and theatre critic for the New Yorker. He has curated numerous exhibitions, teaches at Berkeley and Columbia universities, and is a former staff writer for the Village Voice as well as a contributor to many other publications, including the New York Review of Books. Als’s own books include White Girls (which was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award) (2013) and, most recently, My Pinup: A Paean to Prince (2022). Long associated with Joan Didion, he curated the Didion exhibition at the Hammer Museum in LA and has written extensively about her.


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