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The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion
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Published:
St. Martin's Publishing Group 2015
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Description

In The Last Love Song, Tracy Daugherty, the critically acclaimed author of Hiding Man (a New Yorker and New York Times Notable book) and Just One Catch, and subject of the hit documentary The Center Will Not Hold on Netflix delves deep into the life of distinguished American author and journalist Joan Didion in this, the first printed biography published about her life.
Joan Didion lived a life in the public and private eye with her late husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, whom she met while the two were working in New York City when Didion was at Vogue and Dunne was writing for Time. They became wildly successful writing partners when they moved to Los Angeles and co-wrote screenplays and adaptations together.
Didion is well-known for her literary journalistic style in both fiction and non-fiction. Some of her most-notable work includes Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Run River, and The Year of Magical Thinking, a National Book Award winner and shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. It dealt with the grief surrounding Didion after the loss of her husband and daughter. Daugherty takes readers on a journey back through time, following a young Didion in Sacramento through to her adult life as a writer interviewing those who know and knew her personally, while maintaining a respectful distance from the reclusive literary great.

The Last Love Song
reads like fiction; lifelong fans, and readers learning about Didion for the first time will be enthralled with this impressive tribute.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
08/25/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781466877405
ASIN:
B00T331NE2
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APA Citation (style guide)

Tracy Daugherty. (2015). The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion. St. Martin's Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Tracy Daugherty. 2015. The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion. St. Martin's Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Tracy Daugherty, The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion. St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Tracy Daugherty. The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion. St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2015. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Tracy Daugherty is the author of several novels and short story collections, and a book of personal essays. His critically acclaimed biography of Donald Barthelme, Hiding Man was published in 2009. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Currently, he is Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at Oregon State University.
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fullDescription

In The Last Love Song, Tracy Daugherty, the critically acclaimed author of Hiding Man (a New Yorker and New York Times Notable book) and Just One Catch, and subject of the hit documentary The Center Will Not Hold on Netflix delves deep into the life of distinguished American author and journalist Joan Didion in this, the first printed biography published about her life.
Joan Didion lived a life in the public and private eye with her late husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, whom she met while the two were working in New York City when Didion was at Vogue and Dunne was writing for Time. They became wildly successful writing partners when they moved to Los Angeles and co-wrote screenplays and adaptations together.
Didion is well-known for her literary journalistic style in both fiction and non-fiction. Some of her most-notable work includes Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Run River, and The Year of Magical Thinking, a National Book Award winner and shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. It dealt with the grief surrounding Didion after the loss of her husband and daughter. Daugherty takes readers on a journey back through time, following a young Didion in Sacramento through to her adult life as a writer interviewing those who know and knew her personally, while maintaining a respectful distance from the reclusive literary great.

The Last Love Song
reads like fiction; lifelong fans, and readers learning about Didion for the first time will be enthralled with this impressive tribute.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist, (Starred Review)
      • content:

        "In this engrossing biography of exceptional vibrancy, velocity, and perception, Daugherty astutely elucidates Didion's ever-evolving artistic explorations and political critiques as she interrogates the meaning and 'intelligibility' of literature and life. He also portrays this intensely candid, searching writer as endlessly hardworking, brilliantly innovative, and as sensitive as a tuning fork or divining rod, trembling with the intensity of it all, perfect in pitch, stunning in revelation."

      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews, (Starred Review)
      • content: "An eloquent work on the life of Joan Didion (b. 1934), fashioning her story as no less than the rupture of the American narrative...In this wonderfully engaging biography, Daugherty (English and Creative Writing/Oregon State Univ.; Just One Catch: A Biography of Joseph Heller, 2011, etc.) wisely sticks to Didion's near obsession with making sense of an increasingly incoherent narrative during the tumultuous decades of the waning 20th century...A dogged biographer elicits from Didion's life much more than tidy observations of "morality and culture."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        April 6, 2015
        Daugherty, author of the Donald Barthelme biography Hiding Man, offers a monumental, novelistic examination of Joan Didion’s life and career. The book’s impressively detailed attention to place, beginning with Didion’s California origins, grounds Didion’s development as both a fiction writer and a journalist who served as “our keenest observer of the chaos” of the 1960s and beyond. At times, Daugherty tries too hard to mimic Didion’s own famously cool and elliptical style, as in the passages about her time in Hollywood, but he settles into confident, engrossing prose when focusing on Didion’s literary achievements, from the prematurely world-weary early novels and the groundbreaking essays that cemented her fame to the “extremely political, icily angry” mature works and the heartbreaking late memoirs The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights. Taking a loyal, often protective tone toward his (physically) “famously frail” subject, Daugherty crafts a complex, intricately shaded portrait of a woman also known for her inner toughness and intellectual rigor. This landmark work renders a nuanced analysis of a literary life, lauds Didion’s indelible contributions to American literature and journalism (especially New Journalism), and documents a “style has become the music of our time.” 8-page b&w photo insert.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from June 1, 2015
        An eloquent work on the life of Joan Didion (b. 1934), fashioning her story as no less than the rupture of the American narrative. Didion's works of fiction, nonfiction, and journalism relentlessly probed the times in which they emerged. In this wonderfully engaging biography, Daugherty (English and Creative Writing/Oregon State Univ.; Just One Catch: A Biography of Joseph Heller, 2011, etc.) wisely sticks to Didion's near obsession with making sense of an increasingly incoherent narrative during the tumultuous decades of the waning 20th century. Showing the "construction of persona" of the California-raised author, Daugherty examines Didion's exploration of the concept of the Western-moving pioneer, resilient and stoical in the face of any calamity, a trope underscored by her mother's somewhat depressed motto, "what difference does it make?" The author also discusses Didion's journal keeping, which fed her penchant for eavesdropping; her early stylistic training under Berkeley instructor Mark Schorer and his "channeling of [Joseph] Conrad; her "frailty" and devotion to being the outsider; and her maddening "elisions," first honed from reading Hemingway. Didion's early pieces of New Journalism for Vogue-where she spent her early formative years, until the mid 1960s-reveal the "helter skelter" process that shaped her work: the contingency and chance, rather than the deliberation that critics assumed. In book reviews, movie-star profiles, and political reporting, she was struggling to find an "effective American voice." Enter Time writer John Gregory Dunne, whom she married after the publication of her first novel, Run, River, in 1963, and with whom she moved back to California to work in the more lucrative industry of TV and film. Daugherty devotes much of the later pages of his biography to their remarkable literary partnership, which ended with his sudden death in 2003-an event that inspired her haunting memoir The Year of Magical Thinking (2003). A dogged biographer elicits from Didion's life much more than tidy observations of "morality and culture."

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from June 1, 2015
        Joan Didion, a California-born descendant of pioneers, was five when her flinty mother handed her a pad of paper and suggested that she write instead of whine. This triggered a lifetime devotion to writing and reading that, coupled to a penchant for daring investigations, led to her becoming a defining voice in the New Journalism movement and a razor-sharp novelist. Didionwhose books include her seismic first essay collection, Slouching toward Bethlehem (1968); the novel, The Last Thing He Wanted (1996); and her memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking (2005)chose not to participate in Daugherty's research. But that did not prevent this most literary of literary biographers (his previous subjects were Donald Barthelme and Joseph Heller) from gathering phenomenally vivid details pertaining to Didion's family history, army-brat childhood, positions at Mademoiselle and Vogue, most painful love affair, long marriage to John Gregory Dunne, complicated relationship with their adopted daughter, numerous nervy writing escapades, including screenwriting ventures, and stylish fame. In this engrossing biography of exceptional vibrancy, velocity, and perception, Daugherty astutely elucidates Didion's ever-evolving artistic explorations and political critiques as she interrogates the meaning and intelligibility of literature and life. He also portrays this intensely candid, searching writer as endlessly hardworking, brilliantly innovative, and as sensitive as a tuning fork or divining rod, trembling with the intensity of it all, perfect in pitch, stunning in revelation.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from May 1, 2015

        From the 1960s through the 1980s, Joan Didion, now 80, was the best recorder of America's traumas, arguably better than Norman Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, or any other New Journalist. Daugherty (distinguished professor of English and creative writing, Oregon State Univ.), who has penned biographies of Joseph Heller and Donald Barthelme, may be the ideal writer to chronicle her life and achievement. The one flaw that marred Just One Catch, his biography of Heller, was his excessive dwelling on trivia--but the approach works with Didion, whose critical vision is best captured obliquely, in fractured images that convey a feeling of unease without proof of its causes: the real narrative of the times is hidden behind appearance. Where Heller's genius lay in telling the wildest stories ever, Didion is something else completely, an alienated WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) from the far edge of the United States where fantasies replace honesty and the ugliness of power is conveniently elided. As Daugherty notes, Didion's sensibilities are wholly Californian, describing a land with no discernible past and no future worth saving. Everything is present. VERDICT A strong biography. Who won't want to read this "hot" book?--David Keymer, Modesto, CA

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        March 1, 2015

        Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at Oregon State University, with a spate of novels and short story collections to his name, Daugherty is best known for his much-praised biographies of Donald Barthelme (Hiding Man) and Joseph Heller (Just One Catch)--the former a New York Times and New Yorker Notable Book of the Year and the latter excerpted in Vanity Fair. Here, in what's billed as the first full-scale biography, he takes on iconic author Joan Didion, National Book Award winner for The Year of Magical Thinking and most recently a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and Humanities.

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 1, 2015

        From the 1960s through the 1980s, Joan Didion, now 80, was the best recorder of America's traumas, arguably better than Norman Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, or any other New Journalist. Daugherty (distinguished professor of English and creative writing, Oregon State Univ.), who has penned biographies of Joseph Heller and Donald Barthelme, may be the ideal writer to chronicle her life and achievement. The one flaw that marred Just One Catch, his biography of Heller, was his excessive dwelling on trivia--but the approach works with Didion, whose critical vision is best captured obliquely, in fractured images that convey a feeling of unease without proof of its causes: the real narrative of the times is hidden behind appearance. Where Heller's genius lay in telling the wildest stories ever, Didion is something else completely, an alienated WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) from the far edge of the United States where fantasies replace honesty and the ugliness of power is conveniently elided. As Daugherty notes, Didion's sensibilities are wholly Californian, describing a land with no discernible past and no future worth saving. Everything is present. VERDICT A strong biography. Who won't want to read this "hot" book?--David Keymer, Modesto, CA

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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In The Last Love Song, Tracy Daugherty, the critically acclaimed author of Hiding Man (a New Yorker and New York Times Notable book) and Just One Catch, and subject of the hit documentary The Center Will Not Hold on Netflix delves deep into the life of distinguished American author and journalist Joan Didion in this, the first printed biography published about her life.
Joan Didion lived a life in the public and private eye with her late husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, whom she met while the two were working in New York City when Didion was at Vogue and Dunne was writing for Time. They became wildly successful writing partners when they moved to Los Angeles and co-wrote screenplays and adaptations together.
Didion is well-known for her literary journalistic style in both fiction and non-fiction. Some of her most-notable work includes Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Run River, and The Year of...

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