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30 review for Vegas: A Memoir Of A Dark Season

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    It's been a while since I read this one. I learned about Dunne from my obsession with his wife, Joan Didion. We had a copy at the LA Public Library when I worked there, so I checked it out. Dunne is a great writer and he writes profoundly about his time in Vegas. For me, it captured the wonderful darkness of the connection between LA and Vegas in the 70s. There is a self-aware self-destructiveness to it that spoke strongly to me when I read it. This is definitely work checking out if you're inte It's been a while since I read this one. I learned about Dunne from my obsession with his wife, Joan Didion. We had a copy at the LA Public Library when I worked there, so I checked it out. Dunne is a great writer and he writes profoundly about his time in Vegas. For me, it captured the wonderful darkness of the connection between LA and Vegas in the 70s. There is a self-aware self-destructiveness to it that spoke strongly to me when I read it. This is definitely work checking out if you're interested in a time capsule of Vegas from the 1970s and a look into the life of a writer making it through that decade.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gaylord Dold

    Vegas: A Memoir of a Dark Season by John Gregory Dunne (Random House, 1974) On day John Gregory Dunne woke up to the realization that he was terribly unhappy. Married to the brilliant writer Joan Didion, they lived in Los Angeles, wrote for the movies, published books, adopted a daughter named Quintana Roo, and drank and smoked heavily. What's new about all that? To avoid a breakdown once, John Gregory fled to Vegas, where he nursed his life back to health I suppose, though fleeing to Vegas to so Vegas: A Memoir of a Dark Season by John Gregory Dunne (Random House, 1974) On day John Gregory Dunne woke up to the realization that he was terribly unhappy. Married to the brilliant writer Joan Didion, they lived in Los Angeles, wrote for the movies, published books, adopted a daughter named Quintana Roo, and drank and smoked heavily. What's new about all that? To avoid a breakdown once, John Gregory fled to Vegas, where he nursed his life back to health I suppose, though fleeing to Vegas to solve an emotional problem seems counterproductive. I read Vegas to remember what the early 70's were like and I was pleased and excited to find a mordant, taut, surprisingly noir novel that satisfied my every need for escape. Dunne plunders the noir genre and people's his book (a memoir manqué) with characters--a broken down private eye, dealers, gamblers, husbands-on-the-run (like himself), and a particularly tough and poignant black hooker. They each have a great name, emblematic of something bleak, humorous and lost. You can read this book in a few hours and come away feeling refreshed by all the bullshit there is in the world. After a quick scotch and a cigarette, you'll know that nothing changes because it can't. Who cares anyway when we've got Vegas.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John M

    I'm not 100% sure why I found this pulpy, sometimes vile, novel so damn compelling, but I could not put it down. I'm not 100% sure why I found this pulpy, sometimes vile, novel so damn compelling, but I could not put it down.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Miriam

    I know of this guy as Joan Didion's husband. The biography I read about her and the interviews I've seen of him have predisposed me to dislike him. He's pompous and pretentious. He seems to have no sense of humor. So I read this because I thought I should see what his writing was all about, if there was anything to his pretensions and high opinion of himself. Plus, I'm going to Vegas next month and this book is called Vegas. Meh. The conceited narrative style irritated me: this is a novel, but he I know of this guy as Joan Didion's husband. The biography I read about her and the interviews I've seen of him have predisposed me to dislike him. He's pompous and pretentious. He seems to have no sense of humor. So I read this because I thought I should see what his writing was all about, if there was anything to his pretensions and high opinion of himself. Plus, I'm going to Vegas next month and this book is called Vegas. Meh. The conceited narrative style irritated me: this is a novel, but he says that the "I" is mostly really him. And he made stuff up but "types" like the ones he describes actually exists. (Having read about how he and Didion competed for who would get to use anecdotes and observations in their work, it hardly surprises me that he barely made up anything, just cribbing from people's lives. Or in his quotation of Didion, which he seems to find accurate and yet still seems proud of it, his "vandalizing" of their lives. Can you tell I don't like this guy?) So the Vegas part is...fine. His characters are a prostitute, a private investigator, and a comic. Because Vegas. It's so cliche, it's painful. The prostitute is kind of dumb and you can't take her anywhere because she talks about anal sex. The private eye is clever but unscrupulous but good at his job. The comic is ambitious but reaching is tier-two peak. They are Vegas "types," and his treatment of them doesn't feel fresh or interesting. Most of his interactions with them consist of him describing them with barely concealed contempt--can you believe people live like this? The rest is a rumination on his adolescence and early life, complete with the "objective" stories about masturbation and failed romances (incidentally, in The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion mentions that Dunne was reading Sophie's Choice on the night he died, and now I see why he admired it: in among the compelling center plotline are a bunch of asides about the narrator trying to get laid and lamenting how frigid all women are; maybe Styron stole it from him). Mostly I just thought about what a tool he was and devoured the parts where he discusses Didion (mostly in phonecalls during which she sounds vaguely annoyed at being bothered but still supportive of his "work" in a roundabout kind of way--sounds about right). Whereas I find her detestable but interesting and a unique writer, I just found him detestable and acceptable as a writer. Meh.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Grant

    “I liked to think…that I could learn something about myself from the people whose lives I intruded upon, indeed that was the reason I had taken up residence in an apartment behind the strip.” I read this book in the 4 week period after I had gone to Las Vegas for the first time, and it’s almost poetic in that way. While there, I was searching for this darkness I had associated with the City of Sin, and trying to pull out the parcels of my experience to fit that narrative. I hoped that it would pr “I liked to think…that I could learn something about myself from the people whose lives I intruded upon, indeed that was the reason I had taken up residence in an apartment behind the strip.” I read this book in the 4 week period after I had gone to Las Vegas for the first time, and it’s almost poetic in that way. While there, I was searching for this darkness I had associated with the City of Sin, and trying to pull out the parcels of my experience to fit that narrative. I hoped that it would provide me some kind of an explanation for my curiosities, for my longing to be apart of some greater state of being that’s bathed in money, booze, sex, and lights. All I came home with is less money, a pierced nipple that’s still healing, and a viscous hangover. Although I disagree with many things the narrator confided with his reader, I found my self emphasizing with him. In places that are so foreign and stimulating as Vegas, it is losing yourself in the peaks and valley’s of other’s lives that allow us the perspective to reflect inward.

  6. 4 out of 5

    J...

    It was good. I love taking those temporal trips back. Also the few snippets of his relationship with Joan are worth the price of admission alone.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Boattini

    What a funny read. Many times I found myself literally laughing aloud. I can see why he and Joan were such a match: both dry, both depressed, both smart, both funny. It was incredibly difficult to get my hands on a copy of this – I ended up renting it through Internet Archives, and I'm so glad I did. The characters he encountered in Vegas are worth getting to know, especially Artha! Definitely recommend. What a funny read. Many times I found myself literally laughing aloud. I can see why he and Joan were such a match: both dry, both depressed, both smart, both funny. It was incredibly difficult to get my hands on a copy of this – I ended up renting it through Internet Archives, and I'm so glad I did. The characters he encountered in Vegas are worth getting to know, especially Artha! Definitely recommend.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Torres

    I really enjoyed reading this, especially all the Buster Mano stories which would have really made me beg John Gregory Dunne if he can write a novel only on Buster Mano whether it’s fiction or non-fiction with a bit of fiction if he was still here. I can’t look at a bail bond office anymore without saying “will get you out of jail, and put you on the street”.

  9. 4 out of 5

    lapetitesouris

    "In the summer of my nervous breakdown, I went to live in Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada. It had been a bad spring, it had been a bad winter, it had been a bad year." "In the summer of my nervous breakdown, I went to live in Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada. It had been a bad spring, it had been a bad winter, it had been a bad year."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Pl

  11. 4 out of 5

    Vincent Mollica

    ❤️

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    As seen on Flashlight Worthy. Don't mess with Didion! As seen on Flashlight Worthy. Don't mess with Didion!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mikee

    Not one of the best books I ever read; not even in the top sixty percent. Cute (if kitschy) vegas-type characters, but a total absence of direction or plot. Sort of a waste of time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  15. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brock

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris Cashin

  18. 5 out of 5

    John

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alan Caldwell

  20. 5 out of 5

    Avt

  21. 5 out of 5

    Abby

  22. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Harrington

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Hill

  24. 4 out of 5

    David

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steve K.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Roanne

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pinc Roq

  28. 5 out of 5

    Allison

  29. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Smyth

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Adams

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