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Joan Didion

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Joan Didion

© Quintana Roo Dunne

Birth:

Joan Didion was born December 5, 1934 in Sacramento, CA

Joan Didion's Writing:

Joan Didion, born in California in 1934 and a graduate from Berkeley in 1956, wrote her first novel in the early 1960's and has written four since then. Her most highly esteemed work - that which made her famous as a chronicler of American culture and politics - is her narrative nonfiction, which she also began writing in the 1960's in the form of essays that have over the years appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, The New Yorker, and The New York Review of Books, among other publications. Of Didion, Joyce Carol Oates once said,


"Joan Didion is one of the very few writers of our time who approaches her terrible subject with absolute seriousness, with fear and humility and awe. Her powerful irony is often sorrowful rather than clever... She has been an articulate witness to the most stubborn and intractable truths of our time, a memorable voice, partly eulogistic, partly despairing; always in control."


Joan Didion's voice is one of an unbiased observer who doesn't judge, but merely collects people, places, events, information and structures them so that they are compellingly readable. Her prose is some of the most artfully arranged I have ever read. Take this passage from her essay, "On Going Home," a recollection of a visit to the house of her childhood:


"That I am trapped in this particular irrelevancy is never more apparent to me than when I am home. Paralyzed by the neurotic lassitude engendered by meeting one's past at every turn, around every corner, inside every cupboard, I go aimlessly from room to room."


Didion has published numerous collections of her essays beginning with 1968's classic Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and culminating in We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, a compendium of much of her writing published by Everyman's Library in 2006.. In 2005, Didion wrote The Year of Magical Thinking, a National Book Award winning memoir chronicling her struggle with the dual burdens of the death of her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, and her daughter's (Quintana Roo Dunnne) grave illness.

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