Play It as It Lays Paperback – 15 Nov 2005
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"There hasn't been another American writer of Joan Didion's quality since Nathanel West . . . A terrifying book."--John Leonard," The New York Times "
"Simple, restrained, intelligent, well-structured, witty, irresistibly relentless, forthright in diction, and untainted by the sensational, "Play It As It Lays" is a book of outstanding literary quality."-"-Library Journal"
"""[A] scathing novel, distilling venom in tiny drops, revealing devastation in a sneer and fear in a handful of atomic dust."--J. R. Frakes, " Book World"
There hasn't been another American writer of Joan Didion's quality since Nathanel West . . . A terrifying book. "John Leonard, The New York Times"
Simple, restrained, intelligent, well-structured, witty, irresistibly relentless, forthright in diction, and untainted by the sensational, "Play It As It Lays" is a book of outstanding literary quality. "Library Journal"
[A] scathing novel, distilling venom in tiny drops, revealing devastation in a sneer and fear in a handful of atomic dust. "J. R. Frakes, Book World""
From the Back Cover
A ruthless dissection of American life in the late 1960s, 'Play It As It Lays' captures the mood of an entire generation. Joan Didion chose Hollywood to serve as her microcosm of contemporary society and exposed a culture characterized by emptiness and ennui.
Maria Wyeth is an emotional drifter who has become almost anesthetized against pain and pleasure. She finds herself, in her early thirties, radically divorced from husband, lover, friends, her own past and her own future. Actress, daughter, wife, mother, woman: she has played each role to the sound of one hand clapping.
'Play It As It Lays' is set in a place beyond good and evil, literally in Los Angeles and Las Vegas and the barren wastes of the Mojave, but figuratively in the landscape of an arid soul. Two decades after its original publication, it remains a profoundly disturbing novel.
‘’There hasn’t been another American writer of Joan Didion’s quality since Nathanael West…A terrifying book.’’
JOHN LEONARD, 'New York Times'
‘‘Didion is a better writer than Cheever.’’
ANGELA CARTER, 'Guardian'
‘‘A writer of haunting power and global vision who sees a world on the edge of nervous breakdown and is not afraid to deliver the news.’’
‘‘Joan Didion’s acupuncture prose hits cells we didn’t know we had and reinvigorates our entire sensibility. She circles her characters and key events as she might a dangerous snake.’’
JILL NEVILLE, 'Sunday Times'
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
But there's no escaping the fact that this novel has an incredibly hollow centre- the exploration of Hollywood and the drug culture of the 1960's won't make many readers feel all fuzzy inside, but there is something brutally refreshing about the heroine Maria's experiences, as we follow her on her journey. As a central character she's very unusual, quite possibly because she's in a permamant catatonic state and as a result she wades through the monotony of her life, observing events with a detachment that makes for surprisingly absorbing reading.
The point of view is very narrow in this story, it's a flow-of-conciousness novel (i.e. quite confusing at times), which may in itself put people off and the fact that the narrator has had an emotional bypass may also discourage those considering picking up this book, but I found Maria's story convincing and interesting. *But be warned, you'll need a good supply of coca-cola to consume whilst reading.
It is a painful, melancholic and challenging read yet one I would want to re-visit (and there aren't too many books one can say that about). Packed with imagery yet a short-ish book with over 80 chapters that allows easy digestion.
This book is blistering, corrupt, empty, wounded, decadent and lost. Apparently, you didn't have to drink grappa with Hemingway when you could become just as lost driving the abandoned highways of Southern California and the Mojave.
Everything in this book is dry, hot, arid and empty, including our heroine and every single adult character. Ennui and the brutality of nothingness bookend this despairing tale. Read it and it will never quite leave your mind.
It gives you a good insight that although the surroundings ( California,Vegas,) are nice, life in the 60's was crazy
Its presence is made stronger by the emptiness of the heroine's life: an unfulfilled actress in the middle of a divorce (and probably a nervous breakdown as well), drifting in the emotional space between sad memories of her parents, longings for her hospitalized daughter, and several men whose characters are so vaguely drawn that you find it hard to remember which is which. You can also tell that it's not a happy story, but the author tells it with such spare, tight and vivid prose (strongly reminiscent of Hemingway) that you find yourself being drawn along for the ride on those endless highways.
The central character is Maria Wyeth, a Hollywood actress in her early thirties. Fate has, in many ways, been unkind to her- her mother died in a car crash, her career is in trouble, her marriage to an uncaring husband is also failing and she has a mentally-handicapped daughter. Maria reacts by retreating into the sterile world occupied by most of the novel's other characters, one of casual and promiscuous sex, drink, drugs and "Ennui", both in its literal and its extended Baudelairean senses.
Told in a series of very short vignettes, the novel traces the progress of the disintegration of Maria's life. She is bullied into an abortion by her husband. (It is interesting that a novel by a woman writer treats abortion not as a woman's right but as another weapon of male dominance). Her marriage ends in divorce. In the final scene her moral nihilism means that she deliberately fails to prevent the suicide of a friend.
Much of the book is set in the deserts of southern California and Nevada, and Maria spends much of her time driving on long but aimless car journeys through this landscape. The imagery of the desert is clearly used to suggest the aridity of the spiritual world in which the characters live, and Maria's meaningless journeys are a symbol of her inability to escape this world.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a weird book as in chapter construction. I persevered with it and ended up quite enjoying it. You do have to give it a good chance tho.Published on 8 May 2014 by bubbles
A powerful novel from the wonderful Joan Didion scraping flesh from the bones of American life in the 1960s. Read morePublished on 13 Feb. 2014 by M
This is a very interesting story and extremely well written. The characters and locations are vivid and alive and the story pulls you in.Published on 3 Oct. 2013 by jk
I purchased this book because I needed to read it for my class at uni and it was I thought hard to get into but then a fantastic read.Published on 18 Jan. 2013 by Beaujinks