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.
charge a few years ago. Involving certain of his artists.” “I don’t believe what I’m hearing. Bashti’s artists.” “There was a civil-liberties issue.” “Of course there was.” Warren choked with laughter and slapped his knee. “I knew there was.” “There was,” Charlotte said. In the silence that followed she could hear her voice echo, harsh and ugly. She fixed her eyes on the ring Leonard had brought her from wherever he had gone to meet the man who financed the Tupamaros. The square emerald
thinks she’s in Paris. I don’t want dinner.” “I mean if she is going to Paris,” Ardis Bradley said, “she’s going to miss her husband.” I looked at Ardis Bradley. She could not have had more than two drinks but she did not drink well. No one else seemed to have heard what she said. “I want dinner,” Elena said. “And I also want to go to Paris.” “Go to Paris.” Antonio rose from his crouch. Some chemical exchange in his brain seemed to have switched on another of his rages. I used to be
hours by that time but she could usually get Radio Jamaica and sometimes even Radio British Honduras and the Voice of the Caribbean from the Central American Mission in San José, Costa Rica. She thought she had New Orleans or Miami one night, dance music from some hotel or another in New Orleans or Miami, but it turned out to be only a pick-up from the Caribe. She recognized the accordionist. Some nights when she could not even get Radio Jamaica she called San Francisco. She did not call the
to be talking to me at all. “It wasn’t the way she thought it was either. I wasn’t the way she thought I was and Marin wasn’t the way she thought Marin was and Warren wasn’t the way she thought Warren was. She didn’t know any of us.” “She remembers everything,” I said. “You said she remembers everything.” “No,” Leonard Douglas said. “She remembers she bled.” 14 A FEW DAYS AFTER LEONARD DOUGLAS LEFT BOCA GRANDE Charlotte told me that he had “passed through” but had left before she could
Palace Hotel. I have lived in equatorial America since 1935 and only twice had fever. I am an anthropologist who lost faith in her own method, who stopped believing that observable activity defined anthropos. I studied under Kroeber at California and worked with Lévi-Strauss at São Paulo, classified several societies, catalogued their rites and attitudes on occasions of birth, copulation, initiation and death; did extensive and well-regarded studies on the rearing of female children in the Mato