Do You Know Why We Tell Ourselves Stories?

“’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 universally venerated that scarcely a week goes by without a citation of this insight. But maybe we could give it a little bit of a rest before we devalue it completely? That would be swell. (Same deal with Philip Larkin, in re: your parents.) Also, while I have you here: Everyone is always selling somebody out. It’s only writers who think that they do it in a unique or noteworthy way. Alright, carry on.