"This is not about Patricia Hearst. It is about me and the peculiar vacuum in which I grew up, a vacuum in which the Hearsts could be quite literally king of the hill." Joan Didion's notes for a never written story about the Patricia Hearst trial.
Before Pinterest and Evernote and Tumblr, there was the humble commonplace book, a space for gathering and reflecting on ideas, quotations, observations, lines from poems, and other information. "How and Why to Keep a Commonplace Book" is a brief introduction to a venerable tradition of idea curation. [more inside]
Think of the ways we talk about manliness: as making necessary sacrifices, doing what needs to be done, choosing the ugly truth over the pretty lie. In all of those definitions, we're still just talking about being good, brave, responsible. And if that's what we mean by manliness, then we have to acknowledge the fact that women are now — and always have been — as good at it as men are. Which, in turn, means that men can, and ought to, learn manliness from women.Franklin Strong for The Millions: The Manliness of Joan Didion. [more inside]
Céline Unveils Its Latest Poster Girl: Joan Didion [New York Times]
“I don’t have any clue,” said the 80-year-old author of well-thumbed classics such as “The White Album,” “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” and “The Year of Magical Thinking,” reached by telephone on Wednesday at her Upper East Side residence (where the photo, by Juergen Teller, was taken). “I have no idea.” Whose idea was this? “They got in touch with me,” Ms. Didion said, as crisp as one of Phoebe Philo’s cotton tunics."[The Céline ad featuring Joan Didion.] [more inside]
Robert Atwan, editor of the Best American Essays series, chooses the top ten essays since 1950 for PW's Tipsheet. All but three of the top essays are available to read online and linked in the article. (via)
"To really love Joan Didion—to have been blown over by things like the smell of jasmine and the packing list she kept by her suitcase—you have to be female. … 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. … Ultimately Joan Didion’s crime—artistic and personal—is the one of which all of us will eventually be convicted: she got old. Her writing got old, her perspective got old, her bag of tricks didn’t work anymore."
Vice President Richard Cheney, a mystery and an enigma: Joan Didion pulls together what is publicly known about Richard Cheney--his career history, his ideas, the way he works. "He runs an office so disinclined to communicate that it routinely refuses to disclose who works there, even for updates to the Federal Directory, which lists names and contact addresses for government officials. 'We just don't give out that kind of information,' an aide told one reporter. 'It's just not something we talk about.'" Previously.
Very good election analysis by Joan Didion in the current NYRB. (More inside.)