Joan Didion

“Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.”

― Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

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Joan Didion

“When I was starting to write—in the late fifties, early sixties—there was a kind of social tradition in which male novelists could operate. Hard drinkers, bad livers. Wives, wars, big fish, Africa, Paris, no second acts. A man who wrote novels had a role in the world, and he could play that role and do whatever he wanted behind it. A woman who wrote novels had no particular role. Women who wrote novels were quite often perceived as invalids. Carson McCullers, Jane Bowles. Flannery O’Connor, of course. Novels by women tended to be described, even by their publishers, as sensitive. I’m not sure this is so true anymore, but it certainly was at the time, and I didn’t much like it. I dealt with it the same way I deal with everything. I just tended my own garden, didn’t pay much attention, behaved—I suppose—deviously. I mean I didn’t actually let too many people know what I was doing.”

— Joan Didion, The Art of Fiction No.71, The Paris Review

“After two years of careful reading, moving backwards through time, Robert McCrum has concluded his selection of the 100 greatest nonfiction books. Take a quick look at five centuries of great writing.” — The Guardian

Includes: Former President of the United States, Barack ObamaBetty FriedanEdward SaidGeorge OrwellJames BaldwinJoan DidionMichael HerrNaomi KleinOliver SacksSusan SontagVirginia Woolf, and many more.

Images of Don DeLillo, Alice Munro, Cormac McCarthy, Joan Didion, Margaret Atwood, Ursula K. Le Guin, Zadie Smith, Stephen King, Philip Roth, Alice Walker and more — Literary Hub

“I grew up in a dangerous landscape. I think people are more affected than they know by landscapes and weather. Sacramento was a very extreme place. It was very flat, flatter than most people can imagine, and I still favor flat horizons. The weather in Sacramento was as extreme as the landscape. There were two rivers, and these rivers would flood in the winter and run dry in the summer. Winter was cold rain and tulle fog. Summer was 100 degrees, 105 degrees, 110 degrees. Those extremes affect the way you deal with the world. It so happens that if you’re a writer the extremes show up. They don’t if you sell insurance.”

Joan Didion, The Paris Review

Joan Didion
Joan Didion

Didion’s writing […] can be deceptive: It pulses with the heady warmth of confession, but in fact has extremely little patience for the indignities of aimless admission. Didion’s confessions are controlled, always, and extremely strategic about what they share and what they keep hidden from view. More than admitting, they imply—Montaigne, definitely, but also Monet: Didion is an essayist who is also an impressionist. The words smear and splash and streak and, through precision and—you have to assume—a bit of magic, conspire to make the whole. (‘When I talk about pictures in my mind,’ Didion said, ‘I am talking, quite specifically, about images that shimmer around the edges. … Look hard enough, and you can’t miss the shimmer. It’s there.’)”

— Megan Garber, The Atlantic

An announcement from The Paris Review

Mark your calendars: on Tuesday, April 5, 2016, at Cipriani 42nd Street, The Paris Review will honor Lydia Davis with the Hadada Award at our annual gala, the Spring Revel. (more…)

Two photographers take a look around the iconic literary journal
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Photograph: Paul Barbera

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