Thursday, February 16, 2012


To Pack and Wear:
2 skirts
2 jerseys or leotards
1 pullover sweater
2 pair shoes
nightgown, robe slippers
bag with: shampoo, toothbrush and paste, Basis soap, razor, deodorant, aspirin, prescriptions, Tampax, face cream, powder, baby oil

To Carry:
mohair throw
2 legal pads and pens
house key

This is a list which was taped inside my closet door in Hollywood during those years when I was reporting more or less steadily. The list enabled me to pack, without thinking, for any piece I was likely to do. Notice the deliberate anonymity of costume: in a skirt, a leotard, and stockings, I could pass on either side of the culture. Notice the mohair throw for trunk-line flights (i.e. no blankets) and for the motel room in which the air conditioning could not be turned off. Notice the bourbon for the same motel room. Notice the typewriter for the airport, coming home: the idea was to turn in the Hertz car, check in, find an empty bench, and start typing the day’s notes.

—Joan Didion, The White Album
Also, in case you are wondering, here's an interesting discussion of why women readers seem to care:
Didion’s genius is that she understands what it is to be a girl on the cusp of womanhood, in that fragile, fleeting, emotional time that she explored in a way no one else ever has. Didion is, depending on the reader’s point of view, either an extraordinarily introspective or an extraordinarily narcissistic writer. As such, she is very much like her readers themselves.
If you are interested in sharing a photograph of an author whose style you admire and don't mind telling us why, get in touch, OK!

Source: image | text


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  1. Wow, Joan Didion was precisely the author I thought about when I read your earlier post on authors' styles! How superb it was to see you've featured her today.
    I am myself not especially keen on getting to know what authors look like, or what their style is, because I fear it might - for better or for worse, and even despite myself - influence my experience of their work. Which is, in all honesty, perhaps an ok thing, just not what I want with my readings.
    That said, I must admit that when I read your first post on writers' style, Joan Didion's name just insisted itself - hands down, I adore both her writing and her personal style.

    1. Leslie? Lisa? Tiffany? Elliott? Who wrote this?!
      So many of my lady-friends love Joan Didion!!! I am trying to figure out who wrote this because it could have been so many people!

      The Year of Magical Thinking is my most favorite book that I read in 2011!

      Did you happen to read the piece in The Atlantic that I referenced in the post above? Is there truly a gender divide in Joan Didion fandom? What is your favorite Didion book?

    2. Ha! There might be something to the gender divide you're talking about (never thought of that, really), in relation to Joan Didion - I am neither of the people you listed, but a big female Didion fan nonetheless ;). I'll get on to that link, didn't click to it first time I read the post.

      My favorite book, so far - Slouching towards Bethlehem - clever, perfectly odd and offbeat yet ordinary but incredibly engaging subjects, style through the roof!, strong pieces throughout -- for me a book that made me stop and look and think about the small or "ordinary" things and appreciate the beauty in them, and about how you can make other people open up to and appreciate the beauty in them too, about the value of idiosyncrasies, about how we relate to places, how we make them ours and disown them as we change, so many wonderful aspects to this book. It was also my first Didion, so it might also be that initial wow when confronted with such good writing for the first time, too.

      It's good to hear you enjoyed The Year of Magical Thinking so much - I should perhaps finally get round to approaching it. I've been avoiding this one and her latest one - Blue Nights (even though I've come across so much praise for the latter one, too), for the stupid, perhaps, reason of me being a bit daunted by their painful subject matter -- the books dealing, as they are, with such harrowing experience as the death of your dearest ones. I honestly think that reading them at this point will get me too upset. But you're making me reconsider my fears a bit now. Thank you!


    3. I was re-reading the opening chapter of The Year of Magical Thinking earlier today and was reminded how masterful Didion is at unveiling thoughts and feelings that we have but barely notice and at the same time doing it in a way that doesn't make you feel like a brute for not having gone there on your own. I don't know if that makes sense, I hope it does. And I hope, M., you see this note and take it as me pushing the book your way yet again! ;)

    4. did she forget passport and money, and credit card?

    5. I've wondered the same thing. Maybe she didn't need to be reminded?