- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (April 26 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679752501
- ISBN-13: 978-0679752509
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 272 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #290,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Run River Paperback – Apr 26 1994
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"There hasn't been another American writer of Joan Didion's quality since Nathanael West.... [She has] a vision as bleak and precise as Eliot's." —John Leonard, The New York Times"A slant of vision that is arresting and unique . . . Didion might be an observer from another planet—one so edgy and alert that she ends up knowing more about our own world than we know ourselves." —Anne Tyler, New Republic"A beautifully told first novel . . . written in prose both witty and imaginative." —The Times Literary Supplement (London)
From the Inside Flap
s electrifying first novel begins with a murder on the bank of the Sacramento River--a murder that is at once an act of vengeance and a blind attempt to shore up a disintegrating marriage. Out of that act, Didion constructs a tragic and beautifully nuanced work of fiction.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The narrative started out slowly for me. The first scene is set in 1959. The story then proceeds to the beginning of this particular generation, some decades earlier, and then proceeds back, eventually to 1959. At first I was having trouble getting interested in the story. However the narrative grew on me and by the end, I found the story quite engrossing. There were also quite a few historical and literary references within the story that I researched and found quite interesting. It is obvious to me that Joan Didion is a well read and well educated author.
I purchased the book on Kindle and also the audiobook narration, performed by Holly Cate. Miss Cate was excellent. I often use audiobook to compensate for I consider to be my own "flawed inner narrator". Accordingly it is not easy for me to say how I would have felt about this book if I had read it without the assistance of Miss Cate.
In summary, I really enjoyed this book and audiobook very much. As this is the debut novel of Joan Didion, I intend to find her second novel, I think it is "Play It As It Lays", and read her works in the order she wrote them. Thank You...
Ms. Didion explores the California themes of "Run River" more nakedly in "Where I Was From," and I recommend that any who find themselves intrigued by the setting make their way toward that nonfiction work. Here, the issues are teased at: pioneering spirit (always fed, in some part, by curiously lazy capitalist sympathies, by a thirst for the quick and eternal "Eureka!") gives way to complacency, to comfortable living which fears only disruption. Didion's characters are uninspired to engage in introspection, and so never develop passions beyond the upkeep of what they have always known; their lives are guided by unearned ease, which leads to malaise, which ensures that they develop into very stiff lovers, fathers, mothers and brothers, indeed. When their bloodless expectations happen to be disappointed, they--the younger generations left ethically crippled by their ancestors' easy scores--find themselves without the tools to cope, and are only able to respond by shirking self-preservation and resorting to seriously dramatic moves. (I wish to avoid spoilers...)
I say all of this with the most keen admiration for Didion; she creates such careless characters, and then, with great skill and humanity, manages to make us, her readers, assume responsibility for each of the life complexities which her characters disregard. If they forget to be ambitious, Didion leaves us certain that some life ambition could serve. If they don't fight against the nasty ruptures in their relationships, Didion leaves us aware of the daily work which healthy relationships require. Where they are unkind to one another, we are reminded that we should be kind; where they are lazy, we are invigorated to work. It is a testament to Didion's art that her unfailingly bereft characters leave us feeling compelled to be more collected, to want more, to be better. These are the marks of great literature.