Posts Tagged: Joan Didion
How exactly did Joan Didion go from writing for conservative weekly the National Review to serving as a leading voice for the left? The New Yorker offers an answer:
What changed was her understanding of where dropouts come from, of why people turn into runaways and acidheads and members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, why parents abandon their children on highway dividers, why Harlem teen-agers go rampaging through Central Park at night, why middle-class boys form “posses” and prey sexually on young girls—and, above all, why the press fixates on these stories.
To go with her contribution, Didion had to provide a few sentences about herself. Excavated from the Mademoiselle archives, what she wrote shows a still somewhat green, aspiring writer with a sentimental attachment to home: “Joan spends vacations river-rafting and small-boating in the picture-postcard atmosphere of the Sacramento Valley.” Among her interests, she lists “almost any book every published.”
Over at The New Republic, Laura Marsh reviews The Last Love Song, in which biographer Tracy Daugherty combs through the archives at Mademoiselle, where a 21-year-old Joan Didion worked as an intern....more
Andrew Bomback steps into the conversation between Eula Biss and Joan Didion about “Goodbye to All That” and the myth of New York City, bringing along Taylor Swift as his guest. In its author’s privilege and its message of youthful possibility, “Swift’s ‘Welcome to New York’ is far more Didion than Biss,” he writes....more
“The challenge of memorializing doesn’t favor professionals,” writes Sean Minogue over at Full Stop. So, how are autobiographical narratives of loss by Karl Ove Knausgaard, Joan Didion, or Paul Auster different from therapeutic journaling? Minogue takes a look at how these authors express the everyday details of living after a loss, and how new forms of written self-expression, like Twitter, shifts the line between personal and public grieving....more
The novella-in-flash: What does it mean? How is it even possible? Kathleen Rooney and Abby Beckel, editors at Rose Metal Press, which specializes in hybrid forms, have recently set about defining this lesser-known form. This week, they spoke about My Very End of the Universe, their 2014 anthology of five novellas-in-flash, with Smokelong Quarterly’s Interviews Editor Karen Craigo....more
Politics are not widely considered a legitimate source of amusement in Hollywood, where the borrowed rhetoric by which political ideas are reduced to choices between the good (equality is good) and the bad (genocide is bad) tends to make even the most casual political small talk resemble a rally.
In the fashion world, understanding the zeitgeist is a way of orienting oneself within a temporal framework. And it’s in this way that style is woven so memorably through Didion’s writing. What someone is wearing betrays not just the aesthetic of a certain moment but the emotional weight that Didion assigns to it.
The act of anointing Joan Didion as our favorite, our best, our everything, is the act that reveals what we’re trying to say: that we’re cool, that we’re educated, that if we are not young and white and slender and well-dressed and disaffected and sad and committed to the art of writing as an arduous and soul-sucking process that must be endured yet Instagrammed simultaneously, then we will be, at least, as close as possible to those identifiers even if it kills us.
All of that is to say that because Tom Wolfe and because James Baldwin and Hunter S. Thompson and Michael Herr, but because Didion most of all, an American essay today without the sudden and revelatory personal aside is hardly an American essay at all.
We like to think of Joan Didion as glamorous, the sunglasses-wearing, VOGUE-working, New York loving-and-leaving writer that we all could have been if only life had turned out a little differently. We imagine her sitting down to edit with a cocktail at the end of the day (her actual practice), writing screenplays with her handsome husband, cooking large meals for famous family and friends.