2017 Oregon Book Award for General Nonfiction
Synopses & Reviews
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, 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. The two were 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. Daughtery 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. Lifelong fans and readers learning about Didion for the first time will be enthralled with this impressive tribute.
"It is rare to find a biographer so temperamentally, intellectually, and even stylistically matched with his subject as Tracy Daugherty." Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books
"A comprehensive, absorbing look at the life of th iconic author Joan Didion (our literary girl crush!) by a top-notch biographer." Good Housekeeping
"Thoughtful and ambitious." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"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." Booklist (Starred Review)
"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.'" Kirkus (Starred Review)
"A strong biography. Who wouldn't want to read this 'hot' book?" Library Journal, (Starred Review)
"A monumental, novelistic examination of Joan Didion's life and career...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 [that] has become the music of our time.'" Publisher's Weekly
About the Author
Tracy Daugherty is the New York Times bestselling author of published novels, short story collections, and a book of personal essays. His biographies of Donald Barthelme, Hiding Man, and Joseph Heller, Just One Catch, received rave reviews. 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.