Didion, Joan 1934-
Didion, Joan 1934-
Born December 5, 1934, in Sacramento, CA; daughter of Frank Reese and Eduene Didion; married John Gregory Dunne (a writer), January 30, 1964 (deceased, 2003); children: Quintana Roo (daughter; deceased, 2005). Education: University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1956.
Agent—Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit, 445 Park Ave., 13th Fl., New York, NY 10022.
First prize, Vogue's Prix de Paris, 1956; Bread Loaf fellowship in fiction, 1963; National Book Award nomination in fiction, 1971, for Play It As It Lays; Morton Dauwen Zabel Award, National Institute of Arts and Letters, 1978; National Book Critics Circle Prize nomination in nonfiction, 1980, and American Book Award nomination in nonfiction, 1981, both for The White Album; Los Angeles Times Book Prize nomination in fiction, 1984, for Democracy; Edward MacDowell Medal, 1996; Gold Medal for Belles Lettres, American Academy of Arts and Letters, in honor of distinguished writing career; National Book Award for nonfiction, National Book Foundation, 2005, for The Year of Magical Thinking; Golden Plate award, Academy of Achievement, 2006; Evelyn F. Burkey award, Writer's Guild of America, East, 2007, for contributions bringing honor and dignity to writers everywhere.
Run River, Obolensky (New York, NY), 1963, reprinted, Vintage Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Play It As It Lays (also see below), Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1970, revised edition with introduction by David Thomson, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2005.
A Book of Common Prayer, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1977, reprinted, Vintage International (New York, NY), 1995.
Democracy, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1984, reprinted, Vintage International (New York, NY), 1995.
The Last Thing He Wanted, Knopf (New York, NY), 1996.
SCREENPLAYS; WITH HUSBAND, JOHN GREGORY DUNNE
Panic in Needle Park (based on James Mills's book of the same title), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1971.
Play It As It Lays (based on Didion's book of the same title), Universal, 1972.
(With others) A Star Is Born, Warner Bros., 1976.
True Confessions (based on John Gregory Dunne's novel of the same title), United Artists, 1981.
Broken Trust (based on the novel Court of Honor by William Wood), TNT, 1995.
Up Close and Personal, Touchstone, 1996.
Slouching towards Bethlehem, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1968, reprinted, Modern Library (New York, NY), 2000.
The White Album, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1979.
Salvador, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1983, reprinted Vintage International (New York, NY), 1994.
Joan Didion: Essays & Conversations, Ontario Review Press (Princeton, NJ), 1984.
Miami, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1987, reprinted, Vintage Books (New York, NY), 1998.
After Henry, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1992, published in England as Sentimental Journeys, HarperCollins (London, England), 1993.
Political Fictions, Knopf (New York, NY), 2001.
Where I Was From, Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.
Fixed Ideas: America since 9.11, New York Review of Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Vintage Didion, Vintage Books (New York, NY), 2004.
The Year of Magical Thinking, Knopf (New York, NY), 2005.
We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.
The Year of Magical Thinking: The Play (produced at the Booth Theater, New York, NY, 2007), Vintage Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Author of introduction, Robert Mapplethorpe, Some Women, Bulfinch Press (Boston, MA), 1992. Author of column, with John Gregory Dunne, "Points West," Saturday Evening Post, 1967-69, and "The Coast," Esquire, 1976-77; former columnist, Life. Contributor of short stories, articles, and reviews to periodicals, including Vogue, Saturday Evening Post, Holiday, Harper's Bazaar, New York Times Book Review, New Yorker, and New York Review of Books. Former contributing editor, National Review.
Throughout her long literary career, Joan Didion has distinguished herself with her highly polished style, her keen intelligence, and her provocative social commentary. Although her work frequently criticizes trends in the contemporary world, which she sees as increasingly chaotic, "her moral courage and tenacious search for truth deeply honor American values. No literary journalist currently writing is better able to shape the shards of American disorder into a living history of this time," commended a Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor. The author of novels, essays, and screenplays, Didion has always identified herself as being more interested in images than in ideas, and she is noted for her use of telling details. In addition to being "a gifted reporter," according to the New York Times contributor Michiko Kakutani, Didion "is also a prescient witness, finding in her own experiences parallels of the times. The voice is always precise, the tone unsentimental, the view unabashedly subjective. She takes things personally." Didion has written a great deal about her native state, California, a place which seemed to supply her with ample evidence of the disorder in society. Her theme has remained essentially unchanged, but as the years have passed she has found new ways to express it, writing about troubles of Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the American political scene.
After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1956, Didion took a job at Vogue maga- zine's New York office, where she remained for eight years, rising from promotional copywriter to associate feature editor. During this period, she met John Gregory Dunne and, after several years of friendship, they married, becoming not just matrimonial partners but writing collaborators as well. While still at Vogue, Didion began her first novel, Run River, which was published in 1963. The story concerns two families prominent in the Sacramento Valley, the Knights and the McClellans. Everett and Lily are children of these two prosperous families who elope. Before long they have two children, but their marriage slides into danger when Everett must leave home to serve in the armed forces during World War II. In his absence, Lily has an affair, which leads to her pregnancy. Everett returns and convinces Lily to abort the child, but their marriage can never recover; they live out their lives engaged in mutual recrimination, eventually ending in violence. "The novel depicts the social fragmentation of California that results from the dashed dreams of people drawn to the state by its promise of prosperity," commented a contributor to the Dictonary of Literary Biography. "What is finally ennobling about Lily's western experience, Didion seems to be saying, is not the dream that gave it birth, but the life force that enables her to survive the failure of that dream."
In 1964, Didion and Dunne moved back to the West Coast, where she was determined to earn a living as a freelance reporter. Working on a series of magazine columns about California for the Saturday Evening Post, the couple earned a meager 7,000 dollars in their first year. But their writing did attract widespread attention, and when Didion's columns were collected and published in 1968 as Slouching towards Bethlehem, her reputation as an essayist soared. The collection takes its theme from William Butler Yeats's poem "The Second Coming," which reads: "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world." For Didion those words sum up the chaos of the 1960s, a chaos so far-reaching that it affected her ability to perform. Convinced "that writing was an irrelevant act, that the world as I had understood it no longer existed," Didion, as she states in the book's preface, realized, "If I was to work again at all, it would be necessary for me to come to terms with disorder." She went to Haight-Ashbury to explore the hippie movement, and out of that experience came the title essay. Most critics reserved high praise for Slouching towards Bethlehem. "Nobody captured the slack-jawed Haight-Ashbury hippies any better," acknowledged Saturday Review contributor Martin Kasindorf.
In 1970 Didion published Play It As It Lays, a best-selling novel that received a National Book Award nomination and, at the same time, created enormous controversy with its apparently nihilistic theme. The portrait of a woman on what New York Times Book Review contributor Lore Segal called a "downward path to wisdom," Play It As It Lays tells the story of Maria Wyeth's struggle to find meaning in a meaningless world. "The setting is the desert; the cast, the careless hedonists of Hollywood; the emotional climate, bleak as the surroundings," Kakutani reported in the New York Times. Composed of eighty-four brief chapters, some less than a page in length, the book possesses a cinematic quality and technical precision.
A Book of Common Prayer continues the author's theme of social disintegration with the story of Charlotte Douglas, a Californian "immaculate of history, innocent of politics." Until her daughter Marin abandoned home and family to join a group of terrorists, Charlotte was one who "understood that something was always going on in the world but believed that it would turn out all right." When things fall apart, Charlotte takes refuge in Boca Grande, a fictitious Central American country embroiled in its own domestic conflicts. There she idles away her days at the airport coffee shop, futilely waiting for her daughter to surface and eventually losing her life in a military coup.
Because Charlotte's story is narrated by Grace, an American expatriate and longtime Boca Grande resident, the book presented several technical problems. In her New York Times Book Review article, Joyce Carol Oates speculated that Didion employs this technique because Grace permits Didion "a free play of her own speculative intelligence that would have been impossible had the story been told by Charlotte. The device of an uninvolved narrator is a tricky one, since a number of private details must be presented as if they were within the range of the narrator's experience. But it is a measure of Didion's skill as a novelist that one never questions [Grace's] near omniscience in recalling Charlotte's story." Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, on the other hand, maintained in the New York Times that Didion "simply asks too much of Charlotte, and overburdened as she is by the pitiless cruelty of the narrator's vision, she collapses under the strain."
After A Book of Common Prayer, Didion published The White Album, a second collection of magazine essays similar in tone to Slouching towards Bethlehem. She called the book The White Album in consideration of a famous Beatles album that captured for her the disturb- ing ambiance of the sixties. "I am talking here about a time when I began to doubt the premises of all the stories I had ever told myself," Didion writes in the title essay. "This period began around 1966 and continued until 1971." During this time, says Didion, "all I knew was what I saw: flash pictures in variable sequence, images with no ‘meaning’ beyond their temporary arrangement, not a movie but a cutting-room experience."
Salvador stands as one of Didion's most successful reportorial works. Originally published as two articles in the New York Review of Books, it was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The piece was based on a two-week visit Didion and Dunne made to the embattled Republic of El Salvador in June 1982. A repressive military regime had taken hold there, and horrific violence was a daily occurrence.
A year after Salvador was published, Didion produced Democracy. The book was to have been the story of a family of American colonialists whose interests were firmly entrenched in the Pacific at a time when Hawaii was still a territory, but Didion abandoned this idea. The resulting novel features Inez Christian and her family. In the spring of 1975—at the time the United States completed its evacuation of Vietnam and Cambodia—Inez's father is arrested for a double murder with political and racial overtones. "The Christians and their in-laws are the emblems of a misplaced confidence," according to John Lownsbrough in Toronto's Globe and Mail, "the flotsam and jetsam of a Manifest Destiny no longer so manifest. Their disintegration as a family in the spring of 1975 … is paralleled by the fall of Saigon a bit later that year and the effective disintegration of the American expansionist dream in all its ethnocentric optimism." Somehow, her family's tragedy enables Inez to break free of her marriage to a self-serving politician and escape to Malaysia with Jack Lovett, a freelance CIA agent and the man she has always loved. Though he dies abruptly, Inez holds on to her freedom, choosing to remain in Kuala Lumpur where she works among the Vietnamese refugees.
New York Review of Books critic Thomas R. Edwards believed Democracy "finally earns its complexity of form. It is indeed ‘a hard story to tell’ and the presence in it of ‘Joan Didion’ trying to tell it is an essential part of its subject. Throughout one senses the author struggling with the moral difficulty that makes the story hard to tell—how to stop claiming what Inez finally relinquishes, ‘the American exemption’ from having to recognize that history records not the victory of personal wills over reality … but the ‘undertow of having and not having, the convulsions of a world largely unaffected by the individual efforts of anyone in it.’"
Miami once again finds Didion on the literary high wire, in a work of nonfiction that focuses on the cultural, social, and political impact the influx of Cuban exiles has had upon the city of Miami and, indeed, upon the entire United States. Culminating in an indictment of American foreign policy from the presidential administrations of John F. Kennedy through Ronald Reagan, Miami "is a thoroughly researched and brilliantly written meditation on the consequences of power, especially on power's self-addictive delusions," according to Voice Literary Supplement reviewer Stacey D'Erasmo. The book explores the thirty-year history of the community of Cuban immigrants which now comprises over half the population of that city. Didion paints these émigrés as existing within a country that threatens their political agenda, and a city full of enemies.
After Henry, published in the United Kingdom as Sentimental Journeys, is a collection of twelve essays organized loosely around three geographical areas that Didion has focused on throughout her writing career: Washington, D.C., California, and New York City. "For her they are our Chapels Perilous," declared Robert Dana in the Georgia Review, "where power and dreams fuse or collide." The title essay is a tribute to Didion's friend and mentor Henry Robbins, who served as her editor prior to his death in 1979.
Politics are discussed in the section titled "Washington." The essay "In the Realm of the Fisher King" is an analysis of the years of the Reagan presidency. Reviewer Hendrik Hertzberg lauded "Inside Baseball," Didion's essay on the 1988 presidential campaign, in the New York Times Book Review: "Her cool eye sees sharply when it surveys the rich texture of American public folly…. What she has to say about the manipulation of images and the creation of pseudo-events makes familiar territory new again." However, Hertzberg added, Didion's "focus on the swirl of ‘narratives’ is useful as a way of exploring political image-mongering, but surprisingly limited as a way of describing the brute political and social realities against which candidates and ideas must in the end be measured."
After a twelve-year hiatus, Didion returned to fiction with The Last Thing He Wanted. Set in 1984, the year Democracy was published, it contains some of the same elements, but this time in a different outpost of American foreign-policy gamesmanship, Central America. Told from the viewpoint of a "not quite omniscient" narrator, it is the story of Elena McMahon, a writer who walks away from a job covering the presidential campaign and returns to Florida and her widowed father. A shady wheeler-dealer fading into senility, her father sees a chance to turn a huge profit by supplying arms to Nicaragua's anticommunist contras, and Elena flies to Costa Rica to close the deal. Before long, she is caught in a web of gunrunners, CIA operatives, and a conspiracy that stretches from the JFK assassination to the Iran-Contra scandal. Some reviewers criticized the narrator, and by extension the novel, as too vague and unreal. "The problem of The Last Thing He Wanted," according to New Republic contributor James Wood, "is not that our author is ‘not quite omniscient.’ It is that our narrator is not quite a person." Michiko Kakutani, writing in the New York Times, found the novel equally unconvincing: "Despite Ms. Didion's nimble orchestration of emotional and physical details, despite her insider's ear for lingo, her conspiratorial view of history never feels terribly persuasive…. In the end, what's meant to be existential angst feels more like self-delusion; what's meant to be disturbing feels more like paranoia." Other critics, however, found this "unreality" oddly appropriate. For example, John Weir wrote in the New Yorker: "A dream is disorienting but it adheres to its own particular logic. By contrast, the real life events on which novels are traditionally based have lately taken on a quality that almost defies their being retold. ‘This is something different,’ Didion's narrator writes about the story she's driven to tell. The result is entrancing—a dream without the logic of a dream, the way we live now."
Didion published another collection of her essays in 2001. Political Fictions is made up of pieces previously printed in the New York Review of Books. Her central theme is that political life in the United States has become increasingly inauthentic, designed for and shaped by the media, and controlled by a small elite class that shows complete disregard for the majority of the electorate. She is acerbic in her criticism of the media's part in this state of affairs, claiming that they are willing accomplices with the political powers that be. Her time frame begins with the rivalry between Michael Dukakis and George Bush, Sr., and continues through the years of the Clinton administration and on to the bitter battle of the presidential campaign in 2000. Again and again she reaches the conclusion that democracy in modern America is "not a system of majority rule or an expression of voter choice; it is a cheap spectacle acted out by the craven officials and smug journalists of Washington's ‘political class,’" explained Sean McCann in Book. McCann found some of the author's conclusions "questionable," but added that the "anger and beauty of Didion's work" is so great that "while one reads, it is hard not to nod one's head in assent." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that "at her best, Didion is provocative, persuasive and highly entertaining." Noting that Democrats, Republicans, and political reporters all come under fire from Didion, the writer added: "Didion's willingness to skewer nearly everyone is one of the pleasures of the book."
Didion published two books in 2003: Where I Was From and Fixed Ideas: America since 9.11. The first returned to one of her favorite subjects, the state of California. She had actually started the book in the 1970s, but found it so difficult to write that she set it aside for many years. The death of her mother finally provided the impetus for her to finish it. Her aim was to explore the vast gap between the reality of California and the popular image of the state. Coming from a long line of Californians, Didion explores many family stories in the course of her narrative. The picture she paints of modern-day California is not flattering; she sees "greed, acquisitiveness and wasteful extravagance lurking beneath the state's eternal sunshine," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. Even in its earlier days, now greatly romanticized, California was in fact a place where bigotry and other forms of inhumanity flourished. While many people might find her opinions debatable, "the book is a remarkable document precisely because of its power to trigger a national debate that can heighten awareness and improve conditions on the West Coast and throughout the country," noted the reviewer. Terren Ilana Wein, a writer for Library Journal, defined Where I Was From as "a complex and challenging memoir, difficult to enter into but just as difficult to put down…. Those who have long admired the clarity and precision of her prose will not be disappointed with this partly autobiographical, partly historical, but fully engrossing account."
Didion critiques the political aftermath of the September 11, 2001, destruction of the World Trade Center towers in her book Fixed Ideas. "In times of national crisis, the public turns to such proven, clear-eyed observers of American society to place events within a historical and political context," stated Donna Seaman in Booklist. She noted, however, that meaningful discussion as to the roots of the tragedy was difficult because those who tried to initiate it were "instantly branded as traitors" by the Bush administration. Didion dissects the administration's tactics and strategies for managing the public perception of the terrorist attacks and the war on Iraq that followed. Her analysis proves her to be a "shrewd, seasoned, and superbly articulate interpreter of the machinations of American politics, particularly the art of spin," according to Seaman. The author was quoted by Chauncey Mabe, a contributor to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, as saying: "My immediate thought after 9/11 was that it would alter everything…. But whatever did change doesn't seem to include the political process. I knew this as soon as President Bush made his first speech to the nation, and all the commentators were analyzing how it played, how it was an ‘up thing’ that took attention off the economy. That was pretty discouraging." Discouraged or not, Didion stands as a significant witness to the modern world. "Her prose is a literary seismograph," claimed Dana, "on which are clearly registered the tremors and temblors that increasingly shake the bedrock of the American social dream."
In 2005 Didion published The Year of Magical Thinking, a memoir of the year of her life following the death of her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne. The couple had returned home from visiting their only daughter, Quintana Roo, who was admitted to a hospital when a progressive flu developed into pneumonia and then sepsis, a severe bloodstream infection. That evening, Dunne died suddenly of a massive heart attack. "She gave away her husband's clothes but not his shoes; he would need them if he somehow returned to her. This, she says, was the beginning of her year of magical thinking," commented Linda Hall in American Prospect. Robert Pinsky, writing in New York Times Book Review, called the book an "exact, candid and penetrating account of personal terror and bereavement." Pinsky further noted, "Didion's book is thrilling and engaging—sometimes quite funny—because it ventures to tell the truth…. Grief makes us crazy." Pinsky also commented on Didion's writing style, stating that her use of "repeated, vague, nearly meaningless phrases … dramatize both the inner numbness of shock and the outer reality of the emergency, a terminal reality that is uniquely complicated and simple." Sadly, after the book was published, Quintana Roo died in August 2005, although the end of the memoir suggested she may recover. Didion did not feel it was necessary to change the book to reflect the passing of her daughter. The same year, Didion was awarded the National Book Award for nonfiction for her moving story of personal loss.
In 2006, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction was published. The book contains all of the author's nonfiction, including her early works Slouching towards Bethlehem, The White Album, Miami, and Political Fictions. The only nonfiction work up to that time by the author not included is The Year of Magical Thinking. "In the pages of this magnificent book you can watch her sharpening the knives of her sentences on the whetstone of power, landscape and America's most treasured myths," wrote John Freeman in the Houston Chronicle. He further stated: "In the end, she turned them on her own life." Kelly Jane Torrance, writing in the National Review, noted: "Didion's writing was from the beginning startlingly individual." Torrance went on to write in the same review: "Say what you will about her somewhat self-centered style; America needs more courageous thinkers who will write about life as it is lived—not as elites on all sides seek to manufacture it."
Didion has turned her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking into a play of the same title. For the most part, the play, which features a single actor on stage, stays true to the memoir except that it also incorporates the death of Didion's daughter. The author told Cathleen McGuigan of Newsweek that her daughter's death "is at the heart of the play," adding: "It was something I never entirely confronted before."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography: Broadening Views, 1968-1988, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1989.
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 1, 1973, Volume 3, 1975, Volume 8, 1978, Volume 14, 1980.
Contemporary Novelists, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 2: American Novelists since World War II, 1978; Volume 173: American Novelists since World War II, fifth series, 1996; Volume 185: American Literary Journalists, 1945-1995, first series, 1997.
Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1981, 1986.
Didion, Joan, A Book of Common Prayer, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1977.
Didion, Joan, Political Fictions, Knopf (New York, NY), 2001.
Didion, Joan, Slouching towards Bethlehem, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1968.
Didion, Joan, The White Album, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1979.
Friedman, Ellen G., editor, Joan Didion: Essays and Conversations, Ontario Review Press (Princeton, NJ), 1984.
Henderson, Katherine, Joan Didion, Ungar (New York, NY), 1981.
Loris, Michelle, Innocence, Loss, and Recovery in the Art of Joan Didion, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 1989.
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.
Winchell, Mark, Joan Didion, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1980.
America, April 5, 1997, Lewis A. Turlish, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 28.
American Prospect, February 25, 2002, Ronald Brownstein, review of Political Fictions, p. 33; November, 2005, Linda Hall, "The Last Thing She Wanted," p. 39.
American Scholar, winter, 1970, review of Play It As It Lays, p. 168.
American Spectator, September, 1992, review of After Henry, p. 62.
Atlantic Monthly, April, 1977, review of A Book of Common Prayer, p. 91.
Belles Lettres, fall, 1992, review of After Henry, p. 14.
Book, September, 2001, Sean McCann, review of Political Fictions, p. 75.
Booklist, March 1, 1992, Donna Seaman, review of After Henry, p. 1161; July, 1996, Donna Seaman, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 1779; October 15, 1998, Mary Carroll, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 397; August, 2001, Donna Seaman, review of Political Fictions, p. 2075; May 15, 2003, Donna Seaman, review of Fixed Ideas: America since 9.11, p. 1621.
Boston Magazine, September, 1996, Sven Birkerts, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 124.
Christian Science Monitor, September 24, 1970, review of Play It As It Lays, p. 7; July 9, 1979, review of The White Album, p. B5; June 1, 1992, review of After Henry, p. 13.
Commentary, June, 1984, review of Democracy, pp. 62-67; October, 1996, Elizabeth Powers, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 70.
Commonweal, October 23, 1992, review of After Henry, p. 24.
Daily Variety, March 7, 2006, "Doctorow in, Didion out at Nat'l Crix Kudos," p. 8; January 18, 2007, "Didion Gets WGA Award," p. 45.
Dissent, summer, 1983, review of Salvador, p. 387.
Economist, August 22, 1992, review of After Henry, p. 78.
Entertainment Weekly, March 15, 1996, "Up Close and Personal," p. 46; September 20, 1996, Vanessa V. Friedman, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 75; February 14, 1997, "Panic in Needle Park," p. 68; December 23, 2005, "Joan Didion," p. 82.
Esquire, March, 1996, Josh Young, "Almost Golden," p. 36.
Georgia Review, winter, 1992, Robert Dana, review of After Henry, p. 799.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), April 28, 1984, John Lownsbrough, review of Fixed Ideas.
Harper's, November, 2005, Jennifer Szalai, "The Still Point of the Turning World: Joan Didion and the Opposite of Meaning," p. 97.
Harper's Bazaar, August, 1970, review of Play It As It Lays, p. 101; December, 1971, review of Play It As It Lays, p. 112; September, 1996, Philip Weiss, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 124.
Hollins Critic, October, 1989, "Joan Didion: A Writer of Scope and Substance," p. 1.
Houston Chronicle, November 19, 2006, John Freeman, "An Unwavering Gaze; Weighty Volume Collects a Lifetime of Joan Didion's Penetrating, Bracing Nonfiction," p. 19.
Interview, September, 1996, Mark Marvel, interview with Joan Didion, p. 84; November, 2001, Amy Spindler, interview with Joan Didion, p. 80.
Library Journal, July, 1996, Barbara Hoffert, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 156; October 1, 2001, Cynthia Harrison, review of Political Fictions, p. 124; June 15, 2003, Terren Ilana Wein, review of Where I Was From, p. 72; September 15, 2006, Morris Hounion, review of We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction, p. 60.
London Review of Books, December 10, 1987, review of Miami, p. 3; October 21, 1993, review of Sentimental Journeys, p. 12.
Los Angeles, September, 2001, Tom Carson, review of Political Fictions, p. 137; March, 1996, Peter Rainer, review of Up Close and Personal, p. 145.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, March 20, 1983, Juan M. Vasquez, review of Salvador, p. 1.
M2 Best Books, November 21, 2005, "National Book Award Won by Joan Didion."
Maclean's, March 4, 1996, Brian D. Johnson, review of Up Close and Personal, p. 79.
Nation, September 30, 1996, John Leonard, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 23.
National Review, June 4, 1968, review of Slouching towards Bethlehem, p. 558; August 25, 1970, review of Play It As It Lays, p. 903; October 12, 1979, review of The White Album, p. 1311; June 22, 1992, review of After Henry, p. 53; April 2, 2007, Kelly Jane Torrance, "Breakdown Lane," p. 53.
New Republic, June 6, 1983, review of Salvador, p. 33; April 9, 1984, review of Democracy, p. 35; November 23, 1987, review of Miami, p. 37; October 14, 1996, James Wood, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 44.
Newsweek, August 3, 1970, review of Play It As It Lays, p. 68; March 21, 1977, review of A Book of Common Prayer, p. 81; June 25, 1979, review of The White Album, p. 84; March 28, 1983, review of Salvador, p. 69; April 16, 1984, review of Democracy, p. 86; March 4, 1996, David Ansen, review of Up Close and Personal, p. 70; September 9, 1996, Laura Shapiro, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 68; March 26, 2007, Cathleen McGuigan, "Death Becomes Her; Vanessa Redgrave Works Magic in Didion's Mournful Memoir," p. 82.
New York, March 4, 1996, David Denby, review of Up Close and Personal, p. 66; September 2, 1996, Linda Hall, interview with Joan Didion, p. 28; March 26, 2007, "What They Were Magically Thinking: When You're Joan Didion Writing Your First Play, You're Allowed to Revise up until the Last Minute. An Intimate Look—also Starring Vanessa Redgrave and David Hare—at One of Broadway's Most Anticipated New Productions," p. 30; April 9, 2007, "Too Sad for Words: Joan Didion's One-woman Show Raises the Problem of How to Be Loudly Intimate," p. 90.
New Yorker, June 20, 1977, review of A Book of Common Prayer, p. 117; April 18, 1983, review of Salvador, p. 150; January 25, 1988, "Miami," p. 112; March 11, 1996, James Wolcott, review of Up Close and Personal, p. 107; September 16, 1996, John Weir, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 95.
New York Observer, September 17, 2001, Susan Faludi, review of Political Fictions, p. 14.
New York Review of Books, October 22, 1970, review of Play It As It Lays, p. 38; May 10, 1984, Thomas R. Edwards, review of Democracy, p. 23; December 20, 2001, Joseph Lelyveld, review of Political Fictions, p. 8.
New York Times, July 21, 1970, Michiko Kakutani, review of Play It As It Lays, p. 33; March 21, 1977, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of A Book of Common Prayer, p. 25; June 5, 1979, review of The White Album, p. C11; March 11, 1983, review of Salvador, p. 21; April 6, 1984, review of Democracy, p. 23; February 8, 1987, Leslie Garis, "Didion and Dunne; The Rewards of a Literary Marriage," p. 18; September 3, 1996, Michiko Kakutani, "From a Life of Wealth into a Life of Danger"; September 30, 2001, review of Political Fictions, p. 22; October 24, 2002, "Two Writers under One Roof," p. 3.
New York Times Book Review, July 21, 1968, review of Slouching towards Bethlehem, p. 8; August 9, 1970, Lore Segal, review of Play It As It Lays, p. 6; April 3, 1977, Joyce Carol Oates, review of A Book of Common Prayer, p. 1; June 17, 1979, review of The White Album, p. 1; March 13, 1983, review of Salvador, p. 3; April 22, 1984, review of Democracy, p. 1; October 25, 1987, review of Miami, p. 3; May 17, 1992, Hendrik Hertzberg, review of After Henry, p. 3; September 8, 1996, Michael Wood, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 10; September 20, 2001, review of Political Fictions, p. 22; October 7, 2001, review of Political Fictions, p. 26; October 6, 2002, Scott Veale, review of Political Fictions, p. 36; October 9, 2005, Robert Pinsky, "Goodbye to All That," p. 1L.
Observer (London, England), January 24, 1993, review of Sentimental Journeys, p. 53; January 12, 2003, Jemima Hunt, "The Didion Bible," p. 3.
People, October 28, 1996, Paula Chin, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 40; October 17, 2005, "Aftershocks: Writer Joan Didion Faces a Double Tragedy: The Death of Her Husband, John Gregory Dunne, and, 20 Months Later, Her Daughter," p. 137.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), September 30, 2001, John Freeman, review of Political Fictions, p. J9.
Publishers Weekly, June 24, 1996, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 43; August 6, 2001, review of Political Fictions, p. 72; October 15, 2001, Natasha Wimmer, interview with Joan Didion, p. 41; June 30, 2003, Joel Hirschhorn, review of Where I Was From, p. 68; September 17, 2007, "NBF to Honor Didion," p. 5.
Quill and Quire, December, 1987, review of Miami, p. 30.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 25, 2002, Jane Henderson, "Fans May Be Stuck in the '60s, but … Didion Has Moved On," p. D1.
Saturday Review, August 15, 1970, review of Play It As It Lays, p. 27; March 5, 1977, review of A Book of Common Prayer, p. 23; September 15, 1979, review of The White Album, p. 40; April, 1982, Martin Kasindorf, "New Directions for the First Family of Angst," profile of author, p. 14.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, November 15, 2002, "Joan Didion Rails at Widening Gap between Elected Officials and Their Constituents"; November 20, 2002, Chauncey Mabe, review of Political Fictions.
Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), September 30, 2001, Jonathan Schell, review of Political Fictions, p. 5; October 14, 2001, Deborah Jerome-Cohen, review of Political Fictions, p. 5.
Time, August 10, 1970, review of Play It As It Lays, p. 67; March 28, 1977, review of A Book of Common Prayer, p. 87; August 20, 1979, review of The White Album, p. 69; May 7, 1984, review of Democracy, p. 114; September 28, 1987, "Urban Razzle, Fatal Glamour; Four Authors Look at Miami, the Definitive City of the '80s," p. 65; June 29, 1992, review of After Henry, p. 81; March 4, 1996, Richard Corliss, review of Up Close and Personal, p. 63; September 9, 1996, Paul Gray, review of The Last Thing He Wanted, p. 69; October 10, 2005, "The Color of Grief: Joan Didion, Famous for Her Dry-eyed Unsentimentality, Faces down Tragedy and Insanity and Emerges to Face It down Again," p. 56.
Times Literary Supplement, February 12, 1970, review of Slouching towards Bethlehem, p. 153; March 12, 1971, review of Play It As It Lays, p. 285; July 8, 1977, review of A Book of Common Prayer, p. 821; November 30, 1979, review of The White Album, p. 52; November 5, 1993, review of Sentimental Journeys, p. 28.
Variety, March 4, 1996, Leonard Klady, review of Up Close and Personal, p. 72; March 5, 2007, "B'way Delves into Deep ‘Thinking’: Creative Quartet Shepherds Didion Memoir from Page to Stage," p. 39.
Village Voice, February 28, 1977, review of A Book of Common Prayer, p. 63; June 25, 1979, review of The White Album, p. 100; May 26, 1992, review of Slouching towards Bethlehem, p. 74.
Vogue, April, 2002, Susan Orlean, interview with Joan Didion, p. 281.
Voice Literary Supplement, October, 1987, Stacey D'Erasmo, review of Miami, p. 21.
W, October, 2001, James Reginato, "Joan of Arch," p. 110.
Washington Post, April 8, 1983, Paul Hendrickson, "The Fortnight of Living Dangerously: Joan Didion; Exploring the Riddle of El Salvador," p. 81.
Writer, March, 1999, Lewis Burke Frumkes, interview with Joan Didion, p. 14.
WWD, April 27, 1992, "Joan Didion's Backward Glance; She's a New Yorker Now, but the Writer Still Has Her California Dreams," p. 12.
Zap2It.com, December 31, 2003, "Screenwriter John Gregory Dunne Dies at 71."
International Movie Data Base,http://www.imdb.com/ (December 10, 2007), information on author's film work.
Metroactive,http://www.metroactive.com/ (July 10, 2003), "Why Ask Why?"
Salon.com,http:// www.salon.com/ (July 10, 2003), interview with Joan Didion.