Even though Joan Didion derides her first novel, Run River, as falling too far into the dream of California myth, it is hard to see this at all.
She does not pull any punches in Run River, exposing her characters to all the forces of the American West which she so pungently analysis in her non-fiction. And as this is an early work, the prose is a bit looser, the tone somewhat more free. Her later work is more constricted, written in the kind of shorthand that older, established writers tend to use. It is as if they have written so much, they no longer see the need to articulate each nuance and feeling that passes. It is not sloppiness, but a kind staged economy.
But Run River has none of this. Didion’s writing is fresh and pungent, and she takes her time as she unwinds the story of California's tragic decline in the post-war years.