Synopses & Reviews
Inez Victor knows that the major casualty of the political life is memory. But the people around Inez have made careers out of losing track. Her senator husband wants to forget the failure of his last bid for the presidency. Her husband's handler would like the press to forget that Inez's father is a murderer. And, in 1975, the year in which much of this bitterly funny novel is set, America is doing its best to lose track of its one-time client, the lethally hemorrhaging republic of South Vietnam.As conceived by Joan Didion, these personages and events constitute the terminal fallout of democracy, a fallout that also includes fact-finding junkets, senatorial groupies, the international arms market, and the Orwellian newspeak of the political class. Moving deftly from Honolulu to Jakarta, between romance, farce, and tragedy, Democracy is a tour de force from a writer who can dissect an entire society with a single phrase.
"Rare is the author who can say very little, yet communicate large truths. Joan Didion is (or at least, has been) capable of that feat, as she showed us in Slouching toward Bethlehem some years ago. However, the narrative gifts she displayed then seem to have degenerated into a fetish for clipped dialogue—strings of not quite sentences muttered by characters who yearn to sound portentous. Injection of the author into the middle of this novel—here as omniscient narrator, there as first person participant/character—adds further confusion. Didion succeeds at creating a collage of images, settings that are visually lean, but suggestive. The characters are less satisfying, and the reader searches in vain for some fleshy insight with which to cover the skeletons that people the pages of Democracy." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
About the Author
Joan Didion was born in California and lives in New York City. She is the author of five novels and seven previous books of nonfiction.