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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The men I've known haven't been John Wayne either.

       I was surprised, I don't know why, at her frailty when she was escorted out onto the stage. Joan Didion is a tiny little woman, wearing winter clothes to warm her bitty body on a warm June night. As I watched her fill a fraction of her chair, the words empress dowager came to my mind. Her reading voice was a bit stronger then her appearance suggested it might be. Strong in it's style more than it's power. She read in a way that lets you know it is your job to follow along and not hers to lead you. A grandmother's voice. One that knows it possesses wisdom, but is also wise enough to know the grandchild may take or leave the lesson.
       Last night I was taking the lesson. I haven't been able to read her latest book, Blue Nights, the subject of losing a child too horrific for me to visit at this time in my life, but I greatly appreciate that her last two books have been about grief, which she said she would rather not have had to do. Of course. She told a fan, "I don't recommend grief for anything." And a quote she is well known for explains why she, and I, and thousands of others, write about grief, "I don't know what I think until I write it down". Writing brings clarity to many of us. Catharsis to some. And as Joan alluded to, if reading about it helps someone else, that is a great bonus.
      She isn't sure what she will write next, but doesn't think the next work will be about grief. I am anxious to know what comes after. I've included a link below to Joan's famous essay about John Wayne. I hope that she knows that to many aspiring writers like me she has as big boots to fill as the duke.



  1. Hi T, I've been curious what your reaction to Didion's appearance would be. She is such a physically small person but with such hard, sharp edges. I read both memoirs and blue nights was hard - though not for the reasons I expected. She was much more disjointed in it and it came across as more distant to me. Interesting anyway.

  2. Yes, she is always interesting, isn't she? Her writing is like that, like her, tender and vulnerable turning to solid and strong overall.
    As always, much appreciate your reading and commenting L.


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