A Book of Common Prayer

Posted Monday, March 13, 2006, 09:16 AM

Yet another stop on my journey towards expanding my reading base I found this book to be very different than I expected. Joan Didion is a well know contemporary writer, who has published many articles and essays in newspaper across America. I one a read a collection of her essays called “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” and found it to be a really great read. When it was recommended that I try out “A Book of Common Prayer,” I figured that it would be something close to the same kind of work.

I was shocked to find myself wondering why I wanted to read this story so much. I just had to find out how it ended. The story is told by a woman, trying to give an account of the last days of another woman’s life. As this woman unfolds the events of the woman she so clearly sees as a different person than herself, she starts to realize more and more that she is not so different and she would like to believe. I was so pulled to this story at times that I did not want to put the book down. At other times I was reading out of sheer anticipation that I knew something good was to come of it. And in the end I was left with a sense of sad, thoughtful, reflection. Both of these women had chosen to see their life in a certain way, and chosen to believe what they wanted to about their words. How much like these two women am I?

This is not a book for everyone. But the writing is so well done. Joan Didion does write a sentence unless it has a meaning to the story. She is very clear, and sets up a lot of very ironic situations using only dialogue and the structure of her paragraphs. It sounds weird, I know, but if you pick up any of her works you will find a lot of once sentence paragraphs. This is because she likes to put ideas together, but let each one stand on it’s own in order to lead you to a specific point. You can’t get lost in her work if you put in the effort to pay attention. I liked it, but it is not a book that I would recommended to most of my friends.

A Book of Common Prayer
Joan Didion


~ by trinity777 on November 9, 2006.

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