Slouching Towards Bethlehem

  • by Joan Didion
  • Narrated by Diane Keaton
  • 6 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Nominee, Short Stories/Collections, 2013
Universally acclaimed from the time it was first published in 1968, Slouching Towards Bethlehem has been admired for decades as a stylistic masterpiece. Academy Award-winning actress Diane Keaton (Annie Hall, The Family Stone) performs these classic essays, including the title piece, which will transport the listener back to a unique time and place: the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco during the neighborhood’s heyday as a countercultural center.
This is Joan Didion’s first work of nonfiction, offering an incisive look at the mood of 1960s America and providing an essential portrait of the Californian counterculture. She explores the influences of John Wayne and Howard Hughes, and offers ruminations on the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room. Taking its title from W.B. Yeats’ poem "The Second Coming", the essays in Slouching Towards Bethlehem all reflect, in one way or another, that "the center cannot hold."


What the Critics Say

"Diane Keaton does an outstanding job of conveying an era and a place. Her narration is clear, well timed, and wonderfully consistent with the author's voice. Her ability to convey Didion's musings and gentle skepticism add much. Didion's style remains extraordinary." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Diane Keaton takes California out of Joan Didion

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Book: absolutely. Audiobook: not at ALL.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Didion's amazing ability to describe time, place, characters.

How could the performance have been better?

Let me count the ways! San Bernardino (first story's setting, mentioned in the second sentence and about a dozen times after that) has never been called "San Bern-dino." Merced is not "MURSE-ed." Sausalito is not "Souse-alito." These are real towns, important to the script (if you will). Correct pronunciation should not be optional!

Diane Keaton isn't the first I've heard pronounce Washington "Warshington," but ... really? In a professional production? Was no one directing? Editing? Audible should be embarrassed.

Any additional comments?

This recording needs to be corrected if Audible continues to sell it. I have bought and listened to dozens of audiobooks; none has been this bad. As another reviewer noted, Didion deserved better. So do Audible's customers. I had to stop listening and go buy the paperback book before Diane Keaton completely ruined it for me.

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- Debbie Duncan

Didion deserves better.

Joan Didion's writing is fabulous, insightful, spare. She deserves much better treatment than she gets from Diane Keaton, whom I love as an actress, but who is NOT a good reader. Her mispronunciations are legion, and it is painfully obvious that she is doing this reading cold. But frankly, I blame Audible's obvious desire to whip through these recordings rather than taking the time to produce something flawless--which both the author and the reader deserve. Would it kill them to go back and dub a few mistakes? Didion deserves better.

Still worth a listen, though, because even though Keaton's not so hot, Didion is that good.
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- Victoria Wright ""

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-04-2012
  • Publisher: Audible Studios