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Review

“The Last Thing He Wanted”

Joan Didion

This book took a while to really capture my attention, in terms of time. In terms of how far into the book it took, I suspect it was about the usual amount of time it takes a book to grab me. The distinction being, usually I read books like I’ve got a grudge, like I’m trying to see how fast I can cram all these words into my brain. Not so, with this one — I’d read a chapter or two, and put it down. Sometimes for a couple minutes, so I could sit and process a bit, and then pick it up and continue; other times, it’d be a day or two before I tried again.

All in all, this isn’t the kind of book I tend to go for. It feels much more Literary than my default — which is largely the writing style, but something about the paper and the typesetting makes it feel like the kind of book I’d read for English class in high school, filling it with notes and highlights and a ridiculous amount of sticky notes.

By the end, it feels… semi-coherent. Which, by then, you’ve grown used to, because at the beginning it’s entirely incoherent. The writing style is “first draft of a book by somebody who got a doctorate on a specific week of history and has no grasp of the concept of expert blind spot.”

At the end, though, I liked the book. Apparently it’s been developed into a Netflix film, the cover tells me; I may watch it, because I can’t imagine the film adaptation at all feeling like the book.

In writing this, I can also tell just how much Didion’s writing style has influenced mine, at least at the moment. Consider this a cheap knock-off of a demo. And then go read the real thing, instead.

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