A thrilling and exhilarating exploration of U.S. politics in Central America from Joan Didion, the hugely acclaimed author of The Year of Magical Thinking. It is 1984. Journalist Elena McMahon, watching her evasive, gruff father's life ebbing away before her, clutches at understanding him to grasp little more than air. But harder, keener forces ...
A thrilling and exhilarating exploration of U.S. politics in Central America from Joan Didion, the hugely acclaimed author of The Year of Magical Thinking. It is 1984. Journalist Elena McMahon, watching her evasive, gruff father's life ebbing away before her, clutches at understanding him to grasp little more than air. But harder, keener forces impel her to do his bidding, to go naked into a 'situation' in Central America, because 'things were hotting up again'.
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Publishers Weekly, 1996-06-24 Brilliantly written and flawlessly structured, Didion's first work of fiction since 1984's Democracy employs her trademark barbed-wire prose to tell a highly elliptical tale of political intrigue. Elena McMahon, a middle-aged woman of substantial wealth, is divorced and covering the 1984 presidential campaign for the Washington Post when she abruptly walks off her beat and goes to Florida to visit her ailing father. Soon, she has passively allowed herself to drift into a shady arms deal running between Florida and Central America, an enterprise that her father had set up but is physically incapable of seeing through. Didion takes risks in her choice of a nameless narrator, a writer who has only a peripheral knowledge of the people and events around which the story revolves. Indeed, the narrator is piecing together that story considerably after the fact. As a result, the characters are virtually ciphers: the narrator explicitly refuses to provide traditional motivation for their actions. The book is compulsively readable, however, an intellectual thriller that recalls Graham GreeneŠexcept that whereas Greene was concerned with the spirituality of desolation, Didion's characters operate in a spiritual void. The cold, detached tone is more than compensated for by the sharpness of Didion's prose and the artful suspense of her plot. This is a major work by one of the shrewdest observers of America's political and cultural life. 100,000 first printing; Random House Audio book. (Sept.)
Publishers Weekly, 1997-08-18 A political reporter doing her father a favor ends up caught in a tropical conspiracy. (Sept.)
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