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.
Posts Tagged: Joan Didion
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.
The Daily Beast takes a look at the history of the female essayist from Didion to Dunham:
From cultural critic Susan Sontag and journalist-turned-screenwriter-turned-novelist (and Dunham’s mentor) Nora Ephron, and on through to the host of talented female essayists writing today, this is clearly a flourishing genre that the following women writers—in my mind some of the best writing today—are very much making their own; as Carol Hanisch famously declared in 1969, the personal is political; if, that is, one’s personal experience is mined eloquently and intelligently enough.
In their first joint project, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Los Angeles Magazine recently released what they call a “multimedia collaborative story,” Geoff Nicholas Maps a Territory. The piece supplements the release of Nicholson’s new novel, The City Under the Skin, and it documents—in print, video, and photographs—a walk taken by the author and his friend, critic Anthony Miller, “to explore a series of urban ruins” allegedly “hidden in plain sight,” all the way from the Hollywood Walk of Fame to Joan Didion’s old residence....more
If you like Timothy Leo Taranto’s literary puns here on the Rumpus, you’ll also enjoy these Halloween-themed literary puns over at Vol. 1 Brooklyn.
Written and illustrated by Rumpus contributor Lincoln Michel, they turn your favorite authors into scary monsters, including Louise Eldritch and Sheila Yeti (author, it goes without saying, of How Should A Cryptid Be?...more
At the New York Review of Books‘s blog, Tim Parks explores how authors might subconsciously get inspiration for their novels from unresolved personal conflicts.
Specifically, he reflects on the lives of Chekhov and Faulkner, making connections between their real-life hardships and the perils confronted by the protagonists in their work....more
“We both know what memories can bring, they bring diamonds and rust.” –Joan Baez...more
“What she has written instead is a kind of biography of Joan Didion, and an elusive one at that. Like her novels, it’s more a work of accumulation than of argument, at the end of which Quintana the grown-up remains the enigma Didion must want her to be, while Didion is the woman revealed....more
With the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) due for publication in May 2013, the classification of mental disorders and the categorization of psychiatric definitions is yet again being reviewed, revised, and reworded....more
“Diagnosis never seems to lead to a cure, Didion observes, only an enforced debility. But as with a psychiatric evaluation of herself conducted in 1968 […] Didion sees and reflects on the truths of the assessment even as she ponders it at arm’s length.”
Joan Didion’s forthcoming memoir, Blue Nights, explores the flexibility and arbitrary aspects of psychiatric diagnoses through the experience of her daughter’s struggle with an evolving diagnosis....more
Today’s two Literary Fashionables traveled in distinct social settings at the time of their rise to literary fame. One moved with exiles, hustlers and runaways in Paris, Mexico and Tangier and wrote experimental fiction. The other moved to Vogue out of college, got married and would soon join a group of rising journalists, including Tom Wolfe and Hunter S....more