PositiveThe Washington PostA few of the more polished passages bring to mind what Didion could do at her height — the literary journalism from El Salvador, the defining pieces about California’s culture of ennui ... At times, the notes are merely disconnected impressions. In one regrettable case, a harangue by a good ol’ boy is presented verbatim for pages. Still, salvation keeps arriving: Sentences — with their detached, reportorial tone, their economy of words, and piercing observations — that are vintage Didion ... These excerpts, of course, cannot approach Didion’s two great nonfiction collections, The White Album and Slouching Towards Bethlehem, or her screenplay for The Panic in Needle Park, or her 2005 memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking ... But these excerpts have value. They give us a renewed sense of the writer, now 82, in her creative prime. And, often enough, they remind us of her brilliance as a stylist, social commentator and observer...there is every reason to be grateful that Didion heeded her own advice, and wrote it all down.
Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone MagazineJoe Hagan
PositiveThe Washington PostAlthough he is sometimes tough on Wenner, Hagan is more than fair. Ultimately, he seems to agree with former Rolling Stone editor Will Dana that Wenner, though torn between the virtues and vices of his generation, is '51 percent good' ... Hagan, to his credit, approached the book not as a rose-tinted 'authorized biography' but as a serious work of narrative journalism. As such, it largely succeeds, wending its way through the decades, the music and the personalities ... Hagan not only helps us understand how terribly much it seemed to matter, once upon a time. He also, through his nuanced portrait of Wenner, shows us how thoroughly the publication reflected its founder, warts and all.