Play It As It Lays

Play It As It Lays A ruthless dissection of American life in the late s Play It as It Lays captures the mood of an entire generation the ennui of contemporary society reflected in spare prose that blisters and hau

  • Title: Play It As It Lays
  • Author: Joan Didion
  • ISBN: 0553029894
  • Page: 134
  • Format: Paperback
  • A ruthless dissection of American life in the late 1960s, Play It as It Lays captures the mood of an entire generation, the ennui of contemporary society reflected in spare prose that blisters and haunts the reader Set in a place beyond good and evil literally in Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the barren wastes of the Mojave Desert, but figuratively in the landscape of an aridA ruthless dissection of American life in the late 1960s, Play It as It Lays captures the mood of an entire generation, the ennui of contemporary society reflected in spare prose that blisters and haunts the reader Set in a place beyond good and evil literally in Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the barren wastes of the Mojave Desert, but figuratively in the landscape of an arid soul it remains than three decades after its original publication a profoundly disturbing novel, riveting in its exploration of a woman and a society in crisis and stunning in the still startling intensity of its prose

    One thought on “Play It As It Lays”

    1. “There was silence. Something real was happening: this was, as it were, her life. If she could keep that in mind she would be able to play it through, do the right thing, whatever that meant.”Joan DidionWhenever Maria called, it was as if the ringing of the phone heralded the end of any conviviality I might have been harboring. I always had the impression when I talked with her that the Fun to Be Around Maria was dying in another room, and all I was left with was the beautiful corpse. She wa [...]

    2. "I was raised to believe that what came in on the next roll would always be better than what when out on the last. I no longer believe that."- Joan Didion, Play It As It Lays (Warning: This book is not to be read if suicidal, heavily medicated, driving, pregnant, or if you ever dream of walking out, alone, into the Nevada desert and not coming back. This book is pure existential peril. I remember when I was four being specifically afraid of our church's bathroom. I remember thinking the church w [...]

    3. All right, let's discussIt has been a month since I read this little ditty, and in that one month's time, it has managed to lose a star. Because honestly, I can't give a book 5 stars just because I couldn't put it down, just because it was a "quick read." If that was the standard, every Jodi Picoult book I've ever read would be given 5 stars. When it comes down to it, while I did thoroughly enjoy this book, it isn't one that's going to stay with me through the ages. It isn't one I'm going to rec [...]

    4. MARIA C’EST MOIOgni libro di Joan Didion che leggo è più bello del precedente, e sono tutti magnifici.Non è certo la trama che lo rende così grande, perché la storia è già sentita, e presto detta: giovane starlet di Hollywood precocemente sul viale del tramonto, in preda a ennui divide il suo tempo tra sesso, droghe, troppo poco r&r, e farmaci vari; sono presenti registi, produttori e attori, film girati nel deserto californiano, cocktail, party, ristoranti, lounge, Las Vegas, casin [...]

    5. Joan Didion once said that writing is a hostile act. An imposition of the writer's sensibility on the reader's most private space.Play It As It Lays, published in 1970, slaps down at your soul's kitchen table and announces itself, not loudly, but in a voice that crawls under your skin, not really caring whether or not you want to see anyone, and lights a cigarette. In between noxious exhales, it tells you some version of the truth. Maria Wyeth's story, told in shifting first and close third pers [...]

    6. Gambling, domestic violence, sexual abuse, drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, insanity, depression, snakes, suicide. These are all elements of Play It As It Lays, and much, much more. This is stark, wide-eyed, slap in the face prose that grabs the reader and holds you from beginning to end. It's not a pleasant read, no way. Watching Maria Wyeth's life unfold is like watching the proverbial train wreck that you can't look away from. Set in the 1960's, it's about Hollywood and the movie industry; it's a [...]

    7. Recently my five y/o daughter caught the first minute of the "Thriller" video. I say the first minute because upon seeing Michael look up at the camera with yellow eyes and fangs she threw her hands up, screamed at the top of her lungs, ran from the room, into her room, ran back into the room (still screaming), out of the room, back in and buried her head into the safety of my comforting lap (still screaming). Now I realize this is most people's reaction to seeing Micheal's post '90s decomposing [...]

    8. Anyone still wondering why Dave Chappelle would walk out on a $50 million TV deal with Comedy Central to go into semi-retirement hasn't read Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion. All the answers are here.There is such a thing as a novel missing me at whatever point I'm at in my life. But there's also the kismet of a novel careening into me at the moment I'm crossing the same intersection the author is driving through. A month ago, I was reading an oral history of the '80s movie Masters of the Unive [...]

    9. This book is simply brilliant. The fatalism of it's heroine, Maria Wyeth, is absolutely heart-wrenching as she slowly grows more and more tired of life. Didion is a surgeon, each sentence like a scalpel cutting away a cancerous tumor. No one can match her for brutal honesty. While it's a very quick read at just over 200 pages, it deals a swift but heavy blow.

    10. So that she would not have to stop for food she kept a hard-boiled egg on the passenger seat of the Corvette. She could shell and eat a hard-boiled egg at seventy miles an hour (crack it on the steering wheel, never mind salt, salt bloats, no matter what happened she remembered her body).Which author could possibly begin a novel with the words:What makes Iago evil? Some people ask. I never ask.Well surprisingly enough Joan Didion. And these words set in motion the inevitable direction that this [...]

    11. When I finished reading this book the other day, I suddenly realized that I hadn't really appreciated it correctly. That I needed to reread it right away because I hadn't read it the right way and because there is a lot that you don't have enough information to make sense of the first time around.I don't understand how people can call this book cold and sterile. I just thought it was so rich and textured and heartbreaking. I feel like the little chapters are like puzzle pieces and each piece is [...]

    12. A beautiful book that you can finish in one sitting. However, don't read this when you are depressed because it can make you more depressed. In fact, it made me stop reading for a while because I felt so sad because I could not shake off from my mind the disheartening scenes in the book. This book that is included in the Time Magazine's 100 Best English Novels from 1923 to 2005. The book is about a 30-year old mother, Maria Wyeth who lives in the 60's America as a struggling actress. She meets a [...]

    13. Joan Didion wastes no words. This novel is slim because she only says what must be said, and the reader must make the connections and draw the conclusions. It starts at the end with a few chapters from the points of view of other characters, then shifts into the story from Maria Wyeth's point of view. It is a picture of a depressed woman in a fake society, late 1960s Los Angeles and Las Vegas. An era with drugs and sex, movie stars in the desert and psychiatric hospitals for children, but no acc [...]

    14. The first of her fiction that I’ve read, and it has the bleakly stylish pleasures I might have predicted from prior exposure to the essays – her feel for ominous banality, for the casual nihilism of the rootless (she insinuates where Isherwood rants, and beats him on the Zen of Freeways), for the grotesque contrast of a character’s obvious ongoing crack-up and the evasive, anesthetized trivialities she speaks in. Published in 1970 but feels radically spare and minimal – but I don’t kno [...]

    15. I remember when I read Where I Was From a couple years ago, Didion referred a lot to her novel Play It As It Lays and I thought it sounded really bad. About a year ago I found an old edition someplace with this enormous and brain-numbingly awesome picture of Didion with her cigarette and legendarily icy, ironical stare. I really came close to buying it just because of that image on the back, but then I had a real stern confrontation with myself in the used fiction aisle about the folly and immat [...]

    16. You ever notice how almost every review you’ll read of a Joan Didion book calls her “intelligent,” or says that she writes “intelligent prose”? That must get to you. No wonder all of her heroines take pills.It’s true, though, she does have an awful big brain for such a little lady. And yeah, L.A. is scary, and there isn’t really anyone who conveys that better than her…except maybe Philip K. Dick, who isn’t literally writing about L.A but come on.But, I don’t know, as good as [...]

    17. En la contraportada de mi edición se nos informa acerca de los temas de la novela: la realidad de las mujeres, el mundo de las apariencias, la amoralidad, el egoísmo social. Todo ello, con ser importante, no es ni mucho menos lo esencial. Lo esencial es María Wyeth, su protagonista indiscutible, y, cómo no, la manera genial en la que nos es presentada. Nunca antes me había encontrado con una relación tan íntima entre la forma y el fondo. Tanto la estructura del texto como el estilo de la [...]

    18. Writing is a hostile act, says Joan Didion, not in this book, just generally, that's a thing she says. She clarifies in this terrific interview: It's hostile in that you're trying to make somebody see something the way you see it, trying to impose your idea, your picture. It's hostile to try to wrench around someone else's mind that way.So here she is wrenching around your mind in a basically hostile bummer of a book. Her lead, Maria, lives more or less permanently at rock bottom - high, promisc [...]

    19. Puede que Joan Didion sea un icono de las letras norteamericanas, pero a mí esta novela me ha parecido un chasco monumental. No es más que un clásico intento de retratar la industria del cine y sus podridas entrañas a través de una prometedora actriz venida a menos, hastiada, oprimida, narcotizada y de la que todo el mundo abusa sin que pueda hacer nada por evitarlo. Didion denuncia la hipocresía de una sociedad que se dice liberal, pero que demuestra todo lo contrario coartando la liberta [...]

    20. Oof. The Sheltering Sky meets The Great Gatsby as rewritten by Raymond Carver? Only even more depressing and bleak than that sounds? Hence the "oof," you know.Normally I just want books about poor, poor rich people to spare me, but this one worked by never losing sight of the fact that these hedonists were constantly digging their own holes.

    21. Full of memorable lines and utterly engrossing, Play it as It Lays is a new favorite. I read it pretty quickly but it took a lot out of me to do so. Must find more Didion

    22. Kind of fascinating to see that concise, tip-of-the-iceberg prose of Didion's essays applied to a piece of fiction. The heroine, who seems to share the author's withering intelligence, can't enjoy the decadence that her friends have resigned themselves to, but she isn't much good with the wholesome life either, so she carves out a mostly solitary existence made up of sleeping next to her swimming pool, compulsively hitting the highway (she puts less thought into zipping over to Vegas [distance: [...]

    23. The city burning is Los Angeles's deepest image of itself.Joan Didion, quoted not from Play It As It Lays, but from Vanessa Place's LA MEDUSA, which I happened to read just before this*. Here, L.A. is not in flames but a void. Nothingness lies at the heart of everything and everyone here, chilling even when constrained by ostensibly ordinary events. I read this in a single day, which seems to be the way to go, in and around train rides, industrial voids, an encounter with the police, and a barbe [...]

    24. Lifes tough when you're a pill popping actress trying to cope with an abortion. Quick and entertaining enough to pass time on subway rides. I had trouble relating or empathizing with the characters in the book, though i had a hunch i'm not supposed to. Maybe its LA that i dont like? It had a Hurly Burly type feel to it, except its not funny. This book probably would have been more effective if i read it when i was 15, when wallowing in depression seemed glamourous. Honestly i had a hard time abs [...]

    25. Hmm. Star ratings are tricky here. I'm giving it a 3 for my own enjoyment of it, but it probably deserves a four for being so well written.Although I didn't exactly relish this book, I did read it in one sitting. I love Joan Didion's essays, so I was excited to try a novel. But this is not really my kind of book. If you like Bret Easton Ellis novels, you'll probably love this. If you like reading about rich people wandering aimlessly through their lives and shuddering through the death throes of [...]

    26. It's probably not cricket to give away the last, or nearly last line of a book, but this packs a punch: "I know what 'nothing' means, and keep on playing."So what does one say about a book that is at once and the same time equally infuriating and incisive and compelling? The background is, after all, Hollywood and so by extension the ennui of the heroine is supposed to be seen as heroic, eg she's genuine when everyone else is phony. But I think she's just as phony. Having the backdrop and the su [...]

    27. 3.5/5 Stars.This is a fierce, sordid little novel about a woman in crisis. It takes place in 1960s Hollywood, where Maria, a struggling actress unhappily married to a movie director, engages in a series of self-destructive behaviors that culminate in her being committed.Maria is the kind of apathetic, amoral, detached woman you could picture hanging out with Patrick Bateman. In fact, this reminded me quite a bit of Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero or even JG Ballard's Crash. There's a pervasiv [...]

    28. Wow.My love for Didion grows and grows. I had closed my book store but didn't want to go home. My home isn't comfortable; recently my bedroom ceiling collapsed and was half-ass fixed, a few days ago my kitchen ceiling collapsed, and all despite warning my lazy super that the pipes in my ceiling were damaged and if not fixed would result in a collapsed and destroyed kitchen ceiling. Anyway, I was hanging out with my friend Red and we had closed the store. I picked up this book and started reading [...]

    29. A novel in snippets, Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays begins with three passages narrated in the first person by three of the main characters—the focus of these people’s observations is Maria, the first of the three, and the main character of the novel. The rest of the book is comprised of 84 pieces of prose narrated in the third person from Maria’s point of view. What emerges from these episodic glimpses into the hazy world of a would-be starlet, wife, and mother is a portrait of dissol [...]

    30. This story is of Maria. She's in a mental institution or neuropsychaitric center as they were called in the '60's. Her daughter is also commited and is being treated for a chemical imabalance. I think the daughter's around the age of 4. Maria's seen some bad stuff in her day, but the straw that broke the camel's backwell, I won't spoil it. But, there was something that she was blamed formething that she allowed to happen. And that's why she's holed up undergoing psychotherapy. She tries to tell [...]

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