Marc Weingarten on Joan Didion's The White Album

On Saturday, Marc Weingarten delivered the keynote speech for Malibu's "One City, One Book program." He talked about Joan Didion's The White Album. It's an excellent speech.

(I have to say though, despite Didion's negativity towards southern California, I think Los Angeles is the best city in the known universe. If you disagree, don't bother emailing me about it.)

I remember when I first read The White Album. I was a freshman at USC, and I had been told by more than a few literate Angelinos that I must read Joan Didion's book if I wanted to understand what Southern California was really all about. So I did.

It scared the heck out of me.

Why? Simple, really: Didion's version of the West didn't square with all of the myths I held dear about the place. I was a 70's New York kid who worshipped the Beach Boys and watched Endless Summer, dreaming that golden SoCal dream. Which was why I chose USC to begin with. Now, here was Didion telling me that everything I thought I knew about California was wrong. And the thing was, she was right.