I thought Democracy was going to be a critique on America as it existed during the Vietnam War, like Mailer’s book was. When Didion introduced herself as narrator and self-critic, I thought I’d run aground of another Jonah. Having finished the book, I’m now pretty sure it’s a loosely non-chronological Great Gatsby, with Didion a weary, almost hopeless Carraway beginning to end.
The fact of the matter is this is a romance novel, which struck me as surprising, and which Didion specifically refutes in the middle of the book. It’s a romance novel that’s almost entirely disguised by Didion’s commitment to telling an unromantic story in an unromantic way. It’s a romance novel even though it’s called Democracy, and even though it’s steeped in political controversy. It’s an easy read an an interesting organizational and narrative style, and that’s about it.