Where I Was From

Memoir by Joan Didion


Where I Was From is a 2003 collection of essays by Joan Didion. It concerns the history and culture of California, where Didion was born and spent much of her life. Where I Was From combines aspects of historical writing, journalism, and memoir to present a history of California as well as Didion and her family's own experiences in that state. The book attempts to understand the differences between California's factual history and its perceived reputation. According to Didion, "This book represents an exploration into my own confusions about the place and the way in which I grew up [...] misapprehensions and misunderstandings so much a part of who I became that I can still to this day confront them only obliquely." Where I Was From is also in parts a retrospective on Didion's previous work, examining how these "confusions" affected books such as Run, River.
Diane Johnson summarizes the apparent hypocrisies of California culture that Didion discusses in the book:
"Like all California children, Didion had been fed the old stories of California history, but when she eventually came to think about them, she could see they didn’t “add up.”

First Published


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