Joan Didion Archive

The Joys of a Journal

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Last April, I attended Alexander Chee’s talk on reporting the self. He said: “The thing that you remember is the thing that you live with.” I’d never heard this truth stated so clearly before. What else but memory could be at the root of so many personal conflicts and

Joan Didion’s Hostile Acts of Observation

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Joan Didion’s unique worldview—that laser-sharp analysis of everything from the California coastline to Doors frontman Jim Morrison to her own personal grief and loss—might have been formed the day she failed to make Phi Beta Kappa at the University of California at Berkeley.

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

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