Wednesday, May 9, 2007

" We tell ourselves stories, in order to live. "

From The White Album by Joan Didion


Among the books I'm reading is Joan Didion's Where I Was From. I think Didion is an astonishing writer. I read her stuff, happen upon a sentence. I read the sentence. Then I read it again and again before I move on. I read that sentence like it's a poem within an essay within a story, a narrative that is, ostensibly, about Joan Didion. But what that sentence says isn't just about Joan Didion. It's about you and it's about me. There it is, in so few words, the story of our lives.

In Where I Was From, Didion writes about where she is from. The state of California. It's a book about Joan Didion. It's a book about California. But it's more than that. It's a book about you, and me. It's a book about Easthampton, Massachusetts, Holyoke, Massachusetts, Hartford and Waterbury.

Where I was from. Talk about a motherload of material. Didion knows how to mine it.

2 comments:

Jennifer Warner Cooper said...

On Joan Didion's work:

"The Year of Magical Thinking" scares some off, whether in print or on Broadway.

Oh, they say, it's about death, and I've just had one in the family (who hasn't??).I can't "go there."

No. We can all go there.

It's a love story.
I can't vouch for the play, but any memoirist/essayist/reader who has a heart oughtta read that piece. Read that book. Good stuff.

Terrence said...

I read that book, and I agree with Jennifer. Those who think it's too much, too soon after the death of a loved one are dead wrong. Didion is one tough customer and her writing can get you through The Night.