'The air is heavy with sex and death': Joan Didion's 1970 road trip through the Deep South
This article has been published in the Telegraph. It begins:
By June 1970, Joan Didion was a literary sensation in need of fresh material. Her essays about California counterculture, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, published two years before, had animated the drug-soaked deadbeats in Los Angeles and the hippies of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco in a prose style that was muscular, pithy and effortlessly cool. And if her prose was hip, so was she: in a series of now-famous portraits, she is captured with cigarette in hand, leaning against her yellow Corvette Stingray. But she could not write about California forever. So, with a new column in Life magazine needing to be filled, and hoping to find the germ for another non-fiction collection, she left Hollywood for a month in the American South.