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Joan Didion: memoir yes, blogs not so much

Joandidion_2007One of the things New Yorkers have that Angelenos don't is, apparently, the chance to rub shoulders with the author Joan Didion. Although some of Didion's signature work -- the collection "The White Album" and parts of "Slouching Toward Bethlehem" -- was written while she lived in Los Angeles, Didion largely left the city for New York decades ago.

The blog Guest of a Guest caught up with Didion at a luncheon at 21 on Wednesday and asked her about what she's writing and what she thinks of all this new media stuff. Didion said:

"Well, I don't really understand blogging. It seems like writing, except quicker. I mean, I'm not actually looking for that instant feedback."

Didion continued:

"It makes me uncomfortable. It's an entirely different impulse, I guess. It's like talking."

Didion, a keen observer who writes spare, powerful sentences, won the National Book Award in 2005 for "The Year of Magical Thinking." The book is a memoir about the year after the death of Didion's husband, John Gregory Dunne; they'd been marrried for almost 40 years.

Didion's next book, titled "Blue Nights," will be another memoir, she told Guest of a Guest. It's scheduled to be published by Knopf in 2011 and focuses on getting older -- and it won't exactly be a fun-filled romp. "I'd just as soon skip it," she said of aging. "Skip that aspect. Skip that."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Joan Didion in 2007. Credit: Seth Wenig / Associated Press

 
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Joan Didion, who isn't everyone's cup of tea, has got very old in appearance but, hopefully, her gray matter has not atropied with the years. Celebrity writers really never know when to quit, but, then, this one's never really had a lot to say. Didion should just leave the pen and paper and party on...

Thank you, Joan, for all of the pleasure you brought this life-long reader.

The treasure that is your writings, along with those of your late husband, John, still can be found on my bookshelves and will soon pass to my grand-children.

They, along with countless unknown future readers will surely find as much pleasure in the works of Didion and Dunne as I did, and I thank you for their
future pleasure, too.

Joan Didion is a giant in literary circles. It's funny that she has an aversion to blogging. Maybe its because blogging doesn't take anywhere near the talent required to produce a Joan Didion book.

Dan Durazo

An aversion to blogging, as well as one particular stretch of the Harbor Freeway!

When I want to read a "real" book, I pick up a book of essays by Joan Didion. Slouching Toward Bethlehem marked a turning point for me -- I even wrote a precocious seminar paper on the existential "it" in Play It as It Lays. (Don't laugh, Joan! -- I really was sincere at the time.)

I've been a devoted fan for many years and have read all her books, some of them twice or three times. I subscribed to NYRB so that I could keep up with her political writings. When she lost her daughter and husband, I felt an honest loss, as if they had been relatives of a friend.

She is one of the few writers for whom I will buy a hardcover because I don't want to wait for the paperback edition.

I can't wait to read your next book, Ms. Didion!


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