"'We tell ourselves stories in order to live,' Joan Didion wrote in 'The White Album.'" —Man, did she ever! Look, Joan Didion is great and all. I'm glad her genius has been acknowledged in her lifetime, so that she is aware of just how appreciated she is. And it's terrific that her ability to transform our seemingly ineffable motivations into pithy expressions of undeniable truth is so [...]
Brace yourself. Caitlin Flanagan has an exceedingly perceptive and well-done essay in the Atlantic! Sure, there is a psychologically deep-seated and somewhat deranged whiff of/riff on gender essentialism (boys like Hunter Thompson and girls like Joan Didion!), but hey, that's at least a little true. For one thing, she draws well the obvious connections that Didion and John Gregory Dunne were the most extreme caricatures of their generation of parents (in short: rather terrible), the parents who made their childrens' generation into helicoptering nightmares.
A column that resurrects the highbrow gossip of yore.
Here’s an anecdote from James Wolcott’s crackerjack new memoir of ink-stained ’70s New York, Lucking Out: Wolcott, then in his twenties and cutting his teeth at the Village Voice, tagged along with Pauline Kael for a drink at the townhouse of a top Newsweek editor. Kael was three decades older than Wolcott and miles above him then in the editorial food chain, but he wasn’t about to ask the most famous movie critic in America why she kept inviting him to screenings. (Whatta town.)
The only prominent item on the enormous glass coffee table at the editor’s house was Joan Didion’s [...]
I have mixed feelings about Will.I.Am protesting Sony's release of Michael Jackson's unfinished work. The new single came out this weekend, with a new album (the first of many, apparently) due in December. Will says:
"Whoever put it out and is profiting off of it, I want to see how cold they are. He just wasn't any ordinary artist. He was a hands-on person. To me, it's disrespectful. There's no honoring. Michael Jackson songs are finished when Michael says they’re finished. Maybe if I never worked with him I wouldn’t have this perspective. He was very particular about how he wanted his vocals, the reverb he used … [...]
What do Jeremy Lin and Joan Didion have in common? Someone needed a post.
Joan always kept orchid plants, and liked to linger in the greenhouse of a grower in Malibu, Amado Vazquez, who would name a pink-and-white-striped orchid Phal. Joan Didion Dunne. When everything looked as she wished, Joan, John and I went to get dressed and then gathered in her study. Wearing a rose-print batiste dress (one of a matching pair she'd bought for Quintana and herself in the children's department at Bonwit's), Joan lit a Pall Mall. "We're ready for the party," she said, adding that she was always nervous before dinner was served. Hired help arrived to tend bar and set up the buffet, and I remember Joan [...]
In the October Vanity Fair—the one with Angelina Jolie’s most recent spin on the cover, this time in an ultra-zoomed-in portrait leaving her looking like a close-up-ready revision of Picasso’s portrait of Gertrude Stein—Joan Didion was depicted in her biennial being-thin tour, occasioned by the upcoming release of her memoir Blue Nights. The picture, taken by Annie Leibovitz, depicts a gaunt and dimly lit Joan, her hair overtaken by wispy flyways and even a small sweater piling upon itself on her frame. Some meager light plays across her face. The photo, in uncopyrighted reproduction, has 625 notes right now on Tumblr, and the actress Zooey Deschanel [...]
It's helpful both for the youngs, who are impatient for their lives to start, and for the student of history, to examine things with regard to the pace at which they occurred. As a public service: the Joan Didion Timeline. N.B. Does not include some uncollected pieces such as The Case of Theresa Schiavo (2005).
“Critics are men who watch a battle from a high place then come down and shoot the survivors,” Ernest Hemingway once wrote, with typical pugnacity. But are the critics sometimes right? In this occasional series we'll examine the early careers of now-beloved authors to see what the critics first made of them.
Every profile of Joan Didion begins the same way: some quasi-poetic observation of the slight figure she cuts out there in the world, seguing to a contrast with what has often been called the "steely" quality of her prose. (Most hilariously awkward of these: a 1970 Los Angeles Times profile that tries to sustain an extended metaphor [...]
Each time I visit Northern California, I remember how it's funny that I never seem to remember how beautiful it is when I'm not there. This happened again last week, when I went there with with my wife and my kid over spring break.
Before the Internet, there was plenty of hate mail-there was just no place to print your hate mail. Editors kept it in a file called "Hilarious/Crazy/Scary" and never would it appear in a magazine. Nowadays, praise be, we can see the grand range of human emotion and grammar all throughout the tubes of the webs. Let's take a look back at what used to pass for acceptable hate mail, in the form of letters to Life about that terrible housewife, Joan Didion.