Play It as It Lays

Spare, elegant, and terrifying, Play It as It Lays is the unforgettable story of a woman and a society come undone.

Author: Joan Didion

Publisher: Open Road Media

ISBN: 150404567X

Category: Fiction

Page: 240

View: 545

A “scathing novel” of one woman’s path of self-destruction in 1960s Hollywood—by the New York Times–bestselling author of The White Album (The Washington Post Book World). Spare, elegant, and terrifying, Play It as It Lays is the unforgettable story of a woman and a society come undone. Raised in the ghost town of Silver Wells, Nevada, Maria Wyeth is an ex-model and the star of two films directed by her estranged husband, Carter Lang. But in the spiritual desert of 1960s Los Angeles, Maria has lost the plot of her own life. Her daughter, Kate, was born with an “aberrant chemical in her brain.” Her long-troubled marriage has slipped beyond repair, and her disastrous love affairs and strained friendships provide little comfort. Her only escape is to get in her car and drive the freeway—in the fast lane with the radio turned up high—until it runs out “somewhere no place at all where the flawless burning concrete just stopped.” But every ride to nowhere, every sleepless night numbed by pills and booze and sex, makes it harder for Maria to find the meaning in another day. Told with profound economy of style and a “vision as bleak and precise as Eliot’s in ‘The Wasteland’,” Play It as It Lays ruthlessly dissects the dark heart of the American dream (The New York Times). It is a searing masterpiece “from one of the very few writers of our time who approaches her terrible subject with absolute seriousness, with fear and humility and awe” (Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times Book Review).



Reading Joan Didion

Joan Didion's second novel, Play It As It Lays, tells the story of Maria Wyeth and her entourage as Maria attempts (and fails) to find meaning in her life ...

Author: Lynn Marie Houston

Publisher: ABC-CLIO

ISBN: 0313364036

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 159

View: 719

This book is a compelling reference guide for book clubs on the work of Joan Didion, with summaries of her major works and discussion questions. * Discussion questions on Joan Didion's works, literary movements, and literary analysis * An exhaustive bibliography of additional writings about Didion as well as similar authors and books

New York Magazine

[from Play It as It Lays], he's completely Warren Bogart [from A Book of Common Prayer]. He's always the romantic figure in white suits, the doomed hero who ...

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New York magazine was born in 1968 after a run as an insert of the New York Herald Tribune and quickly made a place for itself as the trusted resource for readers across the country. With award-winning writing and photography covering everything from politics and food to theater and fashion, the magazine's consistent mission has been to reflect back to its audience the energy and excitement of the city itself, while celebrating New York as both a place and an idea.

The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of Los Angeles

It was a Monday, and as I drove Las Tunas Boulevard through Temple City, ... In many respects, Play It As It Lays is a Hollywood novel that depicts the dark ...

Author: Kevin R. McNamara

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 1139825402

Category: Literary Criticism

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Los Angeles has a tantalizing hold on the American imagination. Its self-magnifying myths encompass Hollywood glamour, Arcadian landscapes, and endless summer, but also the apocalyptic undertow of riots, environmental depredation, and natural disaster. This Companion traces the evolution of Los Angeles as the most public staging of the American Dream - and American nightmares. The expert contributors make exciting, innovative connections among the authors and texts inspired by the city, covering the early Spanish settlers, African American writers, the British and German expatriates of the 1930s and 1940s, Latino, and Asian LA literature. The genres discussed include crime novels, science fiction, Hollywood novels, literary responses to urban rebellion, the poetry scene, nature writing, and the most influential non-fiction accounts of the region. Diverse, vibrant, and challenging as the city itself, this Companion is the definitive guide to LA in literature.

Abortion Choice and Contemporary Fiction

straight at the outset ” ( 2 ) —argues that Didion's heroine thus draws ... Barry Chabot , “ Joan Didion's Play It as It Lays and the Vacuity of the ' Here ...

Author: Judith Wilt

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 9780226901589

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 183

View: 355

In recent years, public debate has raged over the issue of maternal choice. While personal testimony and political argument have received widespread attention, artistic representations of birth and abortion have been submerged. Judith Wilt offers the first look at how contemporary writers tell and retell the stories that shape our perceptions about abortion. She reveals that the struggle to plot these painful, complex narratives of choice, control, guilt, loss, and liberation has preoccupied an astonishing number of our most distinguished novelists, male and female alike. Readers of twentieth-century novels are more likely to encounter plots centered on maternal choice than those dealing with the more traditional problems of courtship and marriage. In the opening of the book, Wilt discusses real case histories of several women. After studying the ambiguities of their decisions, she turns to their counterpoints depicted in contemporary fiction. Working from a feminist perspective, Wilt traces the theme of maternal choice in works by Margaret Atwood, Margaret Drabble, Joan Didion, Mary Gordon, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Marge Piercy, Thomas Keneally, Graham Swift, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, John Barth, John Irving, and others. Behind the political, medical, and moral debates on abortion, Wilt argues, is a profound psychocultural shock at the recognition that maternity is passing from the domain of instinct to that of conscious choice. Although never wholly instinctual, maternity's potential capture by consciousness raises complex questions. The novels Wilt discusses portray worlds in which principles are endangered by sexual inequality, male power and hidden male fear of abandonment, impotence, female submission, and covert rage, and, in the case of black maternity, the hideous aftermath of slavery. Wilt provides a resonant new context for debates—whether political or personal—on the issue of abortion and maternal choice. Ultimately she enables us to rethink how we shape our own identities and lives.

International Postmodernism

In this respect I have no defense , except that I wish to be economical and am ... Breakfast of Champions ( 1973 ) Joan Didion : Play It as It Lays ( 1970 ) ...

Author: Johannes Willem Bertens

Publisher: John Benjamins Publishing

ISBN: 9789027234452

Category: Art

Page: 581

View: 583

Containing more than fifty essays by major literary scholars, International Postmodernism divides into four main sections. The volume starts off with a section of eight introductory studies dealing with the subject from different points of view followed by a section that deals with postmodernism in other arts than literature, while a third section discusses renovations of narrative genres and other strategies and devices in postmodernist writing. The final and fourth section deals with the reception and processing of postmodernism in different parts of the world. Three important aspects add to the special character of International Postmodernism: The consistent distinction between postmodernity and postmodernism; equal attention to the making and diffusion of postmodernism and the workings of literature in general; and the focus on the text and the reader (i.e., the reader's knowledge, experience, interests, and competence) as crucial factors in text interpretation. This comprehensive study does not expressly focus on American postmodernism, although American interpretations of postmodernism are a major point of reference. The recognition that varying literary and cultural conditions in this world are bound to produce endless varieties of postmodernism made the editors, Hans Bertens and Douwe Fokkema, opt for the title International Postmodernism.

Landscapes of the New West

At the same time , as I see it , Play It as It Lays marks a new moment in noir genealogy ( yet another genealogy that is virtually entirely male ) , 38 for ...

Author: Krista Comer

Publisher: UNC Press Books

ISBN: 9780807848135

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 302

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In the early 1970s, empowered by the civil rights and women's movements, a new group of women writers began speaking to the American public. Their topic, broadly defined, was the postmodern American West. By the mid-1980s, their combined works made for a bona fide literary groundswell in both critical and commercial terms. However, as Krista Comer notes, despite the attentions of publishers, the media, and millions of readers, literary scholars have rarely addressed this movement or its writers. Too many critics, Comer argues, still enamored of western images that are both masculine and antimodern, have been slow to reckon with the emergence of a new, far more "feminine," postmodern, multiracial, and urban west. Here, she calls for a redesign of the field of western cultural studies, one that engages issues of gender and race and is more self-conscious about space itself_especially that cherished symbol of western "authenticity," open landscape. Surveying works by Joan Didion, Wanda Coleman, Maxine Hong Kingston, Leslie Marmon Silko, Barbara Kingsolver, Pam Houston, Louise Erdrich, Sandra Cisneros, and Mary Clearman Blew, Comer shows how these and other contemporary women writers have mapped new geographical imaginations upon the cultural and social spaces of today's American West.

Writing Widowhood

The feeling of loss that pervades Slouching towards Bethlehem dominates Play It as It Lays, published in 1970, when Quintana was three.

Author: Jeffrey Berman

Publisher: SUNY Press

ISBN: 1438458193

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 244

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Explores how memoirs of widowhood can help us understand the reality of bereavement and the critical role of writing and reading in recovery. The death of a beloved spouse after a lifetime of companionship is a life-changing experience. To help understand the reality of bereavement, Jeffrey Berman focuses on five extraordinary American writers—Joan Didion, Sandra Gilbert, Gail Godwin, Kay Redfield Jamison, and Joyce Carol Oates—each of whom has written a memoir of spousal loss. In each chapter, Berman gives an overview of the writer’s life and art before widowhood, including her early preoccupation with death, and then discusses the writer’s memoir and her life as a widow. He discovers that writing was, for all of these authors, both a solace and a lifeline, enabling them to maintain bonds with their lost loved ones while simultaneously moving on with their lives. These memoirs of widowhood, Berman maintains, reveal not only courage and resilience in the face of loss, but also the critical role of writing and reading in bereavement and recovery. “Writing Widowhood is a stunning achievement that combines biography, literary history, and theoretical and philosophical exploration into the nature of grief as well as mental illness—all seamlessly executed. Berman elegantly and lucidly conveys a range of theories and perspectives to suit both academic and general readers. Berman never compromises complexity while remaining accessible and straightforward throughout.” — Virginia L. Blum, author of Flesh Wounds: The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery “Writing Widowhood contributes to the field of autobiography/biography, and particularly to women’s writing within that generic field, by discussing five memoirs which Berman categorizes as the ‘widow memoir.’ No other critic that I know has shaped commentaries into a newly defined genre. Berman’s book, thus, makes an important contribution to the overall field.” — Linda Wagner-Martin, author of Telling Women’s Lives: The New Biography

Feminism and Its Fictions

... fiction that one reviewer referred to the " obligatory abortion episode . ... her novel Play It As It Lays ( 1970 ) , with its discussions of the ...

Author: Lisa Maria Hogeland

Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press

ISBN: 9780812216400

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 200

View: 892

In Feminism and Its Fictions, Lisa Maria Hogeland argues that women's and feminist fiction of the 1970s was dominated by a new kind of novel whose content and form were shaped by the practice of consciousness raising. She contends that consciousness-raising novels both reflected and furthered the Women's Liberation Movement's analyses of sexuality, gender, race, and political responsibility and that through their narrative structure the novels actually engaged in consciousness raising with their readers. Using a broad range of fiction - including works by Erica Jong, Marilyn French, Marge Piercy, Alix Kates Shulman, Alison Lurie, Joanna Russ, and Joan Didion - Hogeland explores the ways in which consciousness-raising novels addressed some of the most important questions raised by second-wave feminism: How can social change be brought about through changes in individual consciousness? How can sexuality be simultaneously a site of women's freedom and their oppression? How were feminist ideas constructed from ideas about race?

Survival City

... where dreams might be played out with a minimum of interference—if only, as in the scene in Joan Didion's 1970 Play It as It Lays, we can keep sweeping ...

Author: Tom Vanderbilt

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226846954

Category: History

Page: 240

View: 998

On the road to Survival City, Tom Vanderbilt maps the visible and invisible legacies of the cold war, exhuming the blueprints for the apocalypse we once envisioned and chronicling a time when we all lived at ground zero. In this road trip among ruined missile silos, atomic storage bunkers, and secret test sites, a lost battleground emerges amid the architecture of the 1950s, accompanied by Walter Cotten’s stunning photographs. Survival City looks deep into the national soul, unearthing the dreams and fears that drove us during the latter half of the twentieth century. “A crucial and dazzling book, masterful, and for me at least, intoxicating.”—Dave Eggers “A genuinely engaging book, perhaps because [Vanderbilt] is skillful at conveying his own sense of engagement to the reader.”—Los Angeles Times “A retracing of Dr. Strangelove as ordinary life.”—Greil Marcus, Bookforum


LIFE

PLAY IT AS IT LAYS and THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS If you're planning to make a serious movie about contemporary American life, I'd advise you to get in ...

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LIFE Magazine is the treasured photographic magazine that chronicled the 20th Century. It now lives on at LIFE.com, the largest, most amazing collection of professional photography on the internet. Users can browse, search and view photos of today’s people and events. They have free access to share, print and post images for personal use.

Bret Easton Ellis s Controversial Fiction

Susan Squire also rejected the comparison with The Catcher in the Rye and found the novel a 'pubescent version of Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays' ...

Author: Sonia Baelo-Allué

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

ISBN: 1441126317

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 240

View: 723

Both literary author and celebrity, Bret Easton Ellis represents a type of contemporary writer who draws from both high and the low culture, using popular culture references, styles and subject matters in a literary fiction that goes beyond mere entertainment. His fiction, arousing the interest of the academia, mass media and general public, has fuelled heated controversy over his work. This controversy has often prevented serious analysis of his fiction, and this book is the first monograph to fill in this gap by offering a comprehensive textual and contextual analysis of his most important works up to the latest novel Imperial Bedrooms. Offering a study of the reception of each novel, the influence of popular, mass and consumer culture in them, and the analysis of their literary style, it takes into account the controversies surrounding the novels and the changes produced in the shifty terrain of the literary marketplace. It offers anyone studying contemporary American fiction a thorough and unique analysis of Ellis's work and his own place in the literary and cultural panorama.

American Women Writing Fiction

“In the Crucible: The Forging of an Identity as Demonstrated in Didion's Play It As It Lays.” Perspectives on Contemporary Literature 3 (1977): 58–64.

Author: Mickey Pearlman

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky

ISBN: 0813181615

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 248

View: 699

American literature is no longer the refuge of the solitary hero. Like the society it mirrors, it is now a far richer, many-faceted explication of a complicated and diverse society -- racially, culturally, and ethnically interwoven and at the same time fractured and fractious. Ten women writing fiction in America today -- Toni Cade Bambara, Joan Didion, Louise Erdrich, Gail Godwin, Mary Gordon, Alison Lurie, Joyce Carol Oates, Jayne Anne Phillips, Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, and Mary Lee Settle -- represent that geographic, ethnic, and racial diversity that is distinctively American. Their differing perspectives on literature and the American experience have produced Erdrich's stolid North Dakota plainswomen; Didion's sun-baked dreamers and screamers; the urban ethnics -- Irish, Jewish, and black -- of Gordon, Schaeffer, and Bambara; Oates's small-town, often violent, neurotics; Lurie's intellectual sophisticates; and the southern survivors and victims, male and female, of Phillips, Settle, and Godwin. The ten original essays in this collection focus on the traditional themes of identity, memory, family, and enclosure that pervade the fiction of these writers. The fictional women who emerge here, as these critics show, are often caught in the interwoven strands of memory, perceive literal and emotional space as entrapping, find identity elusive and frustrating, and experience the interweaving of silence, solitude, and family in complex patterns. Each essay in this collection is followed by bibliographies of works by and about the writer in question that will be invaluable resources for scholars and general readers alike. Here is a readable critical discussion of ten important contemporary novelists who have broadened the pages of American literature to reflect more clearly the people we are.

Minimalism origins

... Didion's Play It as It Lays , which appeared in 1970 , almost as an emblem of the decade's cultural hangover after the traumatic excess of the sixties .

Author: Edward Strickland

Publisher: Indiana University Press

ISBN: 9780253213884

Category: Art

Page: 312

View: 417

The term Minimalism appeared in the mid-1960s, primarily with reference to the stripped down sculpture of artists like Donald Judd. This volume investigates the origins of Minimalism in post-war American culture. The author redefines it as a movement that developed reductive stylistic innovations.

Politics Desire and the Hollywood Novel

Play It as It Lays gives us a difficult reconstruction of events in the life of Maria Wyeth, an institutionalized actress who has “run out of motives”— ...

Author: Chip Rhodes

Publisher: University of Iowa Press

ISBN: 1587297558

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 200

View: 593

The story of what happens when a serious writer goes to Hollywood has become a cliché: the writer is paid well but underappreciated, treated like a factory worker, and forced to write bad, formulaic movies. Most fail, become cynical, drink to excess, and at some point write a bitter novel that attacks the film industry in the name of high art. Like many too familiar stories, this one neither holds up to the facts nor helps us understand Hollywood novels. Instead, Chip Rhodes argues, these novels tell us a great deal about the ways that Hollywood has shaped both the American political landscape and American definitions of romance and desire. Rhodes considers how novels about the film industry changed between the studio era of the 1930s and 1940s and the era of deregulated film making that has existed since the 1960s. He asserts that Americans are now driven by cultural, rather than class, differences and that our mainstream notion of love has gone from repressed desire to “abnormal desire” to, finally, strictly business. Politics, Desire, and the Hollywood Novel pays close attention to six authors—Nathanael West, Raymond Chandler, Budd Schulberg, Joan Didion, Bruce Wagner, and Elmore Leonard—who have toiled in the film industry and written to tell about it. More specifically, Rhodes considers both screenplays and novels with an eye toward the different formulations of sexuality, art, and ultimately political action that exist in these two kinds of storytelling.

Romance of the Road

out of the action to draw attention to the fact that a story is make believe ? ... numb the pain as does Maria Wyeth in Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays .

Author: Ronald Primeau

Publisher: Popular Press

ISBN: 9780879726980

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 170

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"Americans have treated the highway as sacred space," says Primeau (English, Central Michigan U.) introducing the rich tradition of prose and non-fiction road narratives that include On the Road, Grapes of Wrath, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Primeau critically examines these and other works from the position of travel as pilgrimage resulting in identifiable themes of protest, self discovery, picaresque parody, and myth making. Paper edition (unseen), $17.95. Annotation copyright by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Conversations with Joan Didion

I don't think I'd do it again, but it was a solution to that particular set of ... INTERVIEWER: How long, in all, did Play It As It Lays take to write?

Author: Scott F. Parker

Publisher: Univ. Press of Mississippi

ISBN: 1496815548

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 186

View: 519

Joan Didion (b. 1934) is an American icon. Her essays, particularly those in Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album, have resonated in American culture to a degree unmatched over the past half century. Two generations of writers have taken her as the measure of what it means to write personal essays. No one writes about California, the sixties, media narratives, cultural mythology, or migraines without taking Didion into account. She has also written five novels; several screenplays with her husband, John Gregory Dunne; and three late-in-life memoirs, including The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights, which have brought her a new wave of renown. Conversations with Joan Didion features seventeen interviews with the author, spanning decades, continents, and genres. Didion reflects on her childhood in Sacramento; her time at Berkeley (both as a student and later as a visiting professor), in New York, and in Hollywood; her marriage to Dunne; and of course her writing. Didion describes her methods of writing, the ways in which the various genres she has worked in inform one another, and the concerns that have motivated her to write.