Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.
— Joan Didion, “On Keeping a Notebook”
(text via libraryland)

Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.

— Joan Didion, “On Keeping a Notebook”

(text via libraryland)

…In the original release 20th Century-Fox decided to play up the sensational elements in The Panic in Needle Park, and to overlook the qualities that make this a special and sometimes extraordinary movie. The New York Times carried one of those public confession ads that apologize for the ads that have gone before. “Did our ads blow it for The Panic in Needle Park!” the studio says. Their mistake (according to the current ad) was to play up the drama and love story in the movie, and play down the shock, the horror, the strong stuff. “If you see it,” the ad now promises, “it will sear your senses forever. And that’s the truth.”Well, not quite. The shocking documentary details are there, and sometimes they work but usually they break a tone instead of creating one. That’s because (if you’ll permit me, 20th Century-Fox) this film is indeed a love story, and more specifically a carefully observed portrait of two human beings. If you go to see needles and blood and depravity, you may well be disappointed; the movie is more intelligent than your expectations.That may be because of Joan Didion’s contribution; she wrote the screenplay with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, but somehow I think the character of the girl, Helen, came out of Didion’s private resources.
— Roger Ebert, in his 1971 review of Jerry Schatzberg’s film, about which screenwriter Joan Didion was interviewed by IFC

…In the original release 20th Century-Fox decided to play up the sensational elements in The Panic in Needle Park, and to overlook the qualities that make this a special and sometimes extraordinary movie. The New York Times carried one of those public confession ads that apologize for the ads that have gone before. “Did our ads blow it for The Panic in Needle Park!” the studio says. Their mistake (according to the current ad) was to play up the drama and love story in the movie, and play down the shock, the horror, the strong stuff. “If you see it,” the ad now promises, “it will sear your senses forever. And that’s the truth.”

Well, not quite. The shocking documentary details are there, and sometimes they work but usually they break a tone instead of creating one. That’s because (if you’ll permit me, 20th Century-Fox) this film is indeed a love story, and more specifically a carefully observed portrait of two human beings. If you go to see needles and blood and depravity, you may well be disappointed; the movie is more intelligent than your expectations.

That may be because of Joan Didion’s contribution; she wrote the screenplay with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, but somehow I think the character of the girl, Helen, came out of Didion’s private resources.

— Roger Ebert, in his 1971 review of Jerry Schatzberg’s film, about which screenwriter Joan Didion was interviewed by IFC

(Source: flowerscrackconcrete)

Reposting archival entries from my old blog (prior to discovering Tumblr), this one from Dec 18, 2009:
The calendar year draws to a close. People shuffle about dodging traffic, hands in pocket, with so much on the mind — lists, parties, travel. On the horizon lies a handful of days off of the ol’ routine. It should come as no surprise to me, but I’m feeling ever reflective.
Too often do I bump into a friend when out for lunch and’m asked “What have you been up to lately?” and have got nothing but a blank stare or a canned answer of no consequence to share. I usually feel so buried beneath my day that my fingertips have very little anecdotal grasp or instant recall on a recent memory of any import. My peripheral vision might go a few days ahead of me at any point but rarely does it go behind me without some effort. As the holidays triangulate and block my perspectives in, however, it becomes a little easier to (and damn near impossible to not) reflect casually on what has transpired in my recent past, the last year in particular. It makes for an especially fruitful wintry fortnight as I bathe in the year-old waters trying to divine meaning and shape out of the non-linear — a poetic geometry if you will.
All this said, over a year after reading The Year of Magical Thinking, I’m still in awe of the sort of reflective heavy lifting that Joan Didion did in 2004 when she wrote her memoir about — and in the emotionally brutal midst of — her grieving for her husband of 40 years, John Gregory Dunne, who died suddenly at the very end of 2003. Grief-stricken and without a roadmap for how to process the shock of such a sudden and deep loss, she set out to document her experience, in part to survive the experience but also to help others survive their own after her. It’s a devastating read. From cover to cover. You needn’t have had a catastrophic loss to appreciate the emotional depth that she navigates. But be prepared if you have.
One thing about Magical Thinking that has really stuck with me since reading it is how utterly ill-equipped to deal with her loss Didion felt. Not just personally out-of-her-depth (which goes with the territory), but she felt that society — and especially the tradition of literature which she felt so close to having considered it her life’s calling — had left very few tools to help one process grief of such magnitude. Though she quotes T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare, Thomas Mann, e.e. cummings, Euripides and W.H. Auden, she found precious few pertinent extended texts written from a truly personal perspective (among them C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed). In The Year of Magical Thinking Didion created an instant classic from both the critical and the popular perspectives; a canonical work that will captivate tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of new readers every year for the next hundred plus years; a beacon of hope in the shape of a near peerless loss memoir to those lost souls seeking light on a dark path. I reckon I’ll recommend it to countless friends and no doubt re-read it multiple times throughout my life, short as it is.

Reposting archival entries from my old blog (prior to discovering Tumblr), this one from Dec 18, 2009:

The calendar year draws to a close. People shuffle about dodging traffic, hands in pocket, with so much on the mind — lists, parties, travel. On the horizon lies a handful of days off of the ol’ routine. It should come as no surprise to me, but I’m feeling ever reflective.

Too often do I bump into a friend when out for lunch and’m asked “What have you been up to lately?” and have got nothing but a blank stare or a canned answer of no consequence to share. I usually feel so buried beneath my day that my fingertips have very little anecdotal grasp or instant recall on a recent memory of any import. My peripheral vision might go a few days ahead of me at any point but rarely does it go behind me without some effort. As the holidays triangulate and block my perspectives in, however, it becomes a little easier to (and damn near impossible to not) reflect casually on what has transpired in my recent past, the last year in particular. It makes for an especially fruitful wintry fortnight as I bathe in the year-old waters trying to divine meaning and shape out of the non-linear — a poetic geometry if you will.

All this said, over a year after reading The Year of Magical Thinking, I’m still in awe of the sort of reflective heavy lifting that Joan Didion did in 2004 when she wrote her memoir about — and in the emotionally brutal midst of — her grieving for her husband of 40 years, John Gregory Dunne, who died suddenly at the very end of 2003. Grief-stricken and without a roadmap for how to process the shock of such a sudden and deep loss, she set out to document her experience, in part to survive the experience but also to help others survive their own after her. It’s a devastating read. From cover to cover. You needn’t have had a catastrophic loss to appreciate the emotional depth that she navigates. But be prepared if you have.

One thing about Magical Thinking that has really stuck with me since reading it is how utterly ill-equipped to deal with her loss Didion felt. Not just personally out-of-her-depth (which goes with the territory), but she felt that society — and especially the tradition of literature which she felt so close to having considered it her life’s calling — had left very few tools to help one process grief of such magnitude. Though she quotes T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare, Thomas Mann, e.e. cummings, Euripides and W.H. Auden, she found precious few pertinent extended texts written from a truly personal perspective (among them C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed). In The Year of Magical Thinking Didion created an instant classic from both the critical and the popular perspectives; a canonical work that will captivate tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of new readers every year for the next hundred plus years; a beacon of hope in the shape of a near peerless loss memoir to those lost souls seeking light on a dark path. I reckon I’ll recommend it to countless friends and no doubt re-read it multiple times throughout my life, short as it is.

 
In her new book, The White Album, Joan Didion writes: “Kilimanjaro belongs to Ernest Hemingway. Oxford, Mississippi, belongs to William Faulkner… a great deal of Honolulu has always belonged for me to James Jones… A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image.”
California belongs to Joan Didion.
— Michiko Kakutani, in her June 10, 1979 New York Times review

 

In her new book, The White Album, Joan Didion writes: “Kilimanjaro belongs to Ernest Hemingway. Oxford, Mississippi, belongs to William Faulkner… a great deal of Honolulu has always belonged for me to James Jones… A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image.”

California belongs to Joan Didion.

— Michiko Kakutani, in her June 10, 1979 New York Times review

“The past could be jettisoned, but the seeds got carried.”
 
— Joan Didion, Where I Was From
(text via lostinthesounds; image via anneyhall)

The past could be jettisoned, but the seeds got carried.”

— Joan Didion, Where I Was From

(text via lostinthesounds; image via anneyhall)

"Of course I stole the title for this talk, from George Orwell. One reason I stole it was that I like the sound of the words: Why I Write. There you have three short unambiguous words that share a sound, and the sound they share is this:  I  I  I" 
— Joan Didion, from Why I Write, from The New York Times Book Review, 1976
(link via hannahfidell)

"Of course I stole the title for this talk, from George Orwell. One reason I stole it was that I like the sound of the words: Why I Write. There you have three short unambiguous words that share a sound, and the sound they share is this:   I  I

Joan Didion, from Why I Write, from The New York Times Book Review, 1976

(link via hannahfidell)

I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were. I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be; one of them, a seventeen-year-old, presents little threat, although it would be of some interest to me to know again what it feels like to sit on a river levee drinking vodka-and-orage-juice and listening to Les Paul and Mary Ford and their echoes sing “How High the Moon” on the car radio. (You see I still have the scenes, but I no longer percieve myself among those present, no longer could even improvise the dialogue.)…
—  Joan Didion, from On Keeping A Notebook (from her book of essays Slouching Towards Bethlehem)
(via hannahfidell)

I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were. I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be; one of them, a seventeen-year-old, presents little threat, although it would be of some interest to me to know again what it feels like to sit on a river levee drinking vodka-and-orage-juice and listening to Les Paul and Mary Ford and their echoes sing “How High the Moon” on the car radio. (You see I still have the scenes, but I no longer percieve myself among those present, no longer could even improvise the dialogue.)…

—  Joan Didion, from On Keeping A Notebook (from her book of essays Slouching Towards Bethlehem)

(via hannahfidell)