The Autumn of Joan Didion - Magazine - The Atlantic - via The Awl
Women who encountered Joan Didion when they were young received from her a way of being female and being writers that no one else could give them. She was our Hunter Thompson, and Slouching Towards Bethlehem was our Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He gave the boys twisted pig-fuckers and quarts of tequila; she gave us quiet days in Malibu and flowers in our hair. “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold,” Thompson wrote. “All I ever did to that apartment was hang fifty yards of yellow theatrical silk across the bedroom windows, because I had some idea that the gold light would make me feel better,” Didion wrote. To not understand the way that those two statements would reverberate in the minds of, respectively, young men and young women is to not know very much at all about those types of creatures. Thompson’s work was illustrated by Ralph Steadman’s grotesque ink blots, and early Didion by the ravishing photographs of the mysterious girl-woman: sitting barelegged on a stone balustrade; posing behind the wheel of her yellow Corvette; wearing an elegant silk gown and staring off into space, all alone in a chic living room.
…and I cut my finger opening him a beer and burst into tears, and we walked to a Spanish restaurant and drank Bloody Marys and gazpacho until we felt better. I was not then guilt-ridden about spending afternoons that way, because I still had all the afternoons in the world.
“Goodbye to All That” | Slouching Towards Bethlehem | Joan Didion
This weekend, I had all the afternoons in the world. There’s nothing better.
My favorite piece of Google Reader from this AM.
Didion comes off as a woman too self-possessed to be charmed, which is, funnily enough, what’s so charming about her: to read her is to have the privilege of hearing what that quiet girl in the corner is thinking, the scene sharply observed, sharply described.
Also, I’d like the above illustration printed and framed. Puhlease & thanks.
It is often said that New York is a city for only the very rich and the very poor. It is less often said that New York is also, at least for those of us who came there from somewhere else, a city for only the very young.
—Joan Didion (Slouching Towards Bethlehem)
I was feeling a bit off so I picked up Didion. And thank goodness for that.
Once, a long time ago, I was explaining to a boy* why I loved Didion. I was trying to distinguish her from the journos of her time. All I could manage was a slurry , “it’s just… it’s just…she just…she writes sentences like they should be written.” (Shameful. Shameful. Shameful.)
Reading anything by Joan Didion is a treat. She is a careful when selecting her words. She is melancholy but matter-of-fact. You should read her. Trust me. (I suggest starting with Slouching Towards Bethlehem, but that’s just a suggestion.)
*Who was probably feigning interest considering that it was nearly 2am in the dead of winter, post very a sparkly holiday party.