Joan Didion writes about the bizarrely suffocating atmosphere of her native California in Where I Was From. A place filled with mystique and doom, her California is a land that not only fails to deliver on its promised dreams, but actively derails people from doing so. Form the Donner Party to the railroads to Hollywood, California has epitomized American hopes, aspirations and failures writ large.
In this collection, Didion writes particularly well about her native Sacramento and her family of old California settlers. Here she writes with pathos, love, despair, and a tincture of hate… complex emotions and ideas that she handles with her typical skill and devotion.