“Play It As It Lays,” by Joan Didion

Novel, 1970

Savage novel about an actress whose career and life both appear to be on the skids and which offers little in the way of either relief or comfort. This is a book of alienation and the surface glitz of a shiny, showbiz world, overlaid with real tragedy, abuse and the horror of a life deteriorating. A beautifully written piece as well; Didion’s choppy chapters and descriptions never fully judge, but paint a world in which men and systems are fully in charge and Maria Wyeth – the main protagonist – is trapped, almost through her own lack of positive action, and is being mauled and savaged in the process. Not for the faint-hearted, but a great, savage satire.

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