A Book of Common Prayer
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Writing with the telegraphic swiftness and microscopic sensitivity that have made her one of our most distinguished journalists, Joan Didion creates a shimmering novel of innocence and evil.A Book of Common Prayer is the story of two American women in the derelict Central American nation of Boca Grande. Grace Strasser-Mendana controls much of the country's wealth and knows virtually all of its secrets; Charlotte Douglas knows far too little. "Immaculate of history, innocent of politics," she has come to Boca Grande vaguely and vainly hoping to be reunited with her fugitive daughter. As imagined by Didion, her fate is at once utterly particular and fearfully emblematic of an age of conscienceless authority and unfathomable violence.
had learned what the initials meant in Algeria and Indochina and the Caribbean, but on a blank map of the world she could not actually place the countries where the initials were in conflict. She considered the conflict dubious in any case. She understood that something was always going on in the world but believed that it would turn out all right. She believed the world to be peopled with others like herself. She associated the word “revolution” with the Boston Tea Party, one of the few events
microphone. When this film was repeated at eleven it was followed for the first time by the picture of Marin, the famous picture of Marin Bogart, the two-year-old newspaper picture of Marin in her pink-and-white candy-striped Children’s Hospital volunteer’s pinafore. The newspaper had apparently lost the negative and simply cropped and enlarged a newsprint reproduction in which Marin was almost indistinguishable, clearly a complaisant young girl in a pinafore but enigmatically expressionless, her
where they had found the cache of .30-caliber Browning automatic rifles and the translucent pink orthodontal retainer Marin was supposed to wear to correct her bite. In both those places the gray morning light fell through dusty windows onto worn hardwood floors and Charlotte had remembered for the first time how sad she herself had been at Berkeley before Warren came to her door. “Let’s flop back to one of the theories you were espousing yesterday, Mrs. Douglas. When you—” “Let’s flop back to
discovered in the introduction to this handbook an invitation to address her suggestions “for factual or interpretive or other changes” to a post-office box in Washington. To this post-office box in Washington Charlotte addressed her suggestions for factual or interpretive or other changes on the subject of Boca Grande. She never received an answer but first Kasindorf and then Riley and finally Tuck Bradley received word that she was in the country. In case they had missed her. Nor did
value. When she showed me her next attempt at writing about Boca Grande, the next of those “Letters from Central America” which were the only one of her projects to survive the incident at the Caribe pool, the typed manuscript began: “A nation that refuses to emphasize technology at the expense of its traditional culture, Boca Grande is …” Boca Grande is. 9 “YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT,” I SAID TO VICTOR the day Antonio’s Bentley exploded in front of the Caribe, killing the chauffeur. Antonio