“We tell ourselves stories in order to live . . . We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images . . . Or at least we do for a while.”
First published in 1979, The White Album is a mosaic—of people, places, events—from the late 1960s and 1970s. Among other artifacts and personalities from those years, it includes the dark journeys and impulses of the Manson family, a Black Panther Party press conference, portraits of Doris Lessing and Georgia O’Keeffe, the romance of water in an arid landscape, and a visit to the disorienting city of Bogota—a varied and vibrant portrait of the times as seen through Joan Didion’s clear-eyed perspective. With commanding sureness of mood and language, she exposes the realities and dreams of that age of self discovery whose spiritual center was California.