On the basis of this, I prefer Didion's non-fiction. This was closest in tone to the essay "Slouching Toward Bethlehem", which was probably my least favourite in that collection. This book is very much of its time, late sixties, and it was hard for me to relate to the despair of characters whose 'problems' are largely self-imposed. I thought first section from Maria's view point and the insights into that throughout were some of the strongest parts.I liked the style: it's fast-paced (some chapters aren't even a full page), spare, and conveys the despair and ennui of the characters incredibly well. It was just that I didn't always feel it was earned.Some of the language is of its time, I found the references to faggots jarring. My 70s library copy also uses retarded not once but twice on the dust jacket, but this wasn't in the book itself.