Joan Didion Archive

Netflix’s New Joan Didion Documentary Speaks to Pain and Memory

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I cannot watch a documentary about Joan Didion impartially any more than her nephew, Griffin Dunne, could make an impartial film about his legendary aunt. To say that Didion, now 82, has had an impact on me is an understatement.

The Limits and Freedoms of Literary Regionalism: Silence and the Self in Joan Didion’s Southern California Memoir

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Joan Didion's 1979 book of essays The White Album is not only a road trip through the gridded streets and indecisive canyons of Los Angeles County, but also a meditation on Southern California as a setting for self-discovery.

The Arc of Joan Didion and Annie Dillard

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In my mind, Joan Didion and Annie Dillard are linked, two sides to the same coin, one the yin to the other’s yang. This is unfair to both women.

Somewhere Else: One Woman and Her Car

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About two years ago, I arranged for a one-way ride to York, Maine, to buy a 2004 Toyota Matrix that I found on Craigslist. While the owner counted the cash, he gave me a brief history of my new car.

A Fractured America with a Missing Center in Joan Didion’s SOUTH AND WEST

The political and cultural moment of SOUTH AND WEST's release could not have been foreseen, but through her narrative disappearing act, Didion leaves us to make sense of what we read to find its central purpose.

Demented and Seductive

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In the 12-episode series of her podcast You Must Remember This titled “Charles Manson’s Hollywood,” Karina Longworth takes listeners from Manson’s early delinquency, through his aspirational move to L.A. and subsequent occupation of abandoned movie set Spahn Ranch, to the details and aftermath of the murders for which he’s

Writing Trauma: Notes of Transcendence, #2–The Book as Companion

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Examining painful truths, I left behind the stories. I developed an aversion to reading. When I picked up a book, it was as if my brain closed a door. How could I, a writer and an English professor, no longer have a desire to read?

All Rise for the Story: Writing Lessons at Jury Duty

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We tell ourselves stories in order to live…We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the

Tyrants big and little

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How would an onlooker have described the scene at the 2nd hole of the golf course I played on during the summer after high school? The tee overlooked the pin far below, nearly a vertical drop, and way in the left-hand distance were mountains that looked serrated down the

Daily Details Made Monumental

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Exterior details lend themselves to the interior landscape of a character or narrator. What one chooses to notice, how one describes an object, says more about the speaker than it does about that thing. A character who spends a whole paragraph noticing someone’s unwashed, unkempt hair tells the reader