Johnson, Diane 1934–
Johnson, Diane 1934–
PERSONAL: Born April 28, 1934, in Moline, IL; daughter of Dolph and Frances Lain; married B. Lamar Johnson, Jr., July, 1953; married John Frederic Murray (a professor of medicine), May 31, 1968; children: (first marriage) Kevin, Darcy, Amanda, Simon. Education: Attended Stephens College, 1951–53; University of Utah, B.A., 1957; University of California, M.A., 1966, Ph.D., 1968.
ADDRESSES: Home—24 Edith St., San Francisco, CA 94133. Office—Department of English, University of California, Davis, CA 95616. Agent—Lynn Nesbit, Janklow, & Nesbit, 598 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Writer. University of California at Davis, began as assistant professor, became professor of English, 1968–87.
MEMBER: International PEN.
AWARDS, HONORS: National Book Award nomination, 1973, for Lesser Lives, and 1979, for Lying Low; Guggenheim fellowship, 1977–78; Rosenthal Award, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1979; Pulitzer Prize nomination in general nonfiction, 1983, for Terrorists and Novelists, and 1987, for Persian Nights; Los Angeles Times book prize nomination in biography, 1984, for Dashiell Hammett: A Life; Harold and Mildred Strauss Living Stipend from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1988–92; Los Angeles Times medal, 1994.
Fair Game, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1965.
Loving Hands at Home, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1968.
Burning, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1971, reprinted, Plume (New York, NY), 1998.
The Shadow Knows (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1974, reprinted, Plume (New York, NY), 1998.
Lying Low, Knopf (New York, NY), 1978, reprinted, Plume (New York, NY), 1998.
Persian Nights, Knopf (New York, NY), 1987.
Health and Happiness, Knopf (New York, NY), 1990.
Le Divorce, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.
Le Mariage, Dutton (New York, NY), 2000.
L'Affaire, Dutton (New York, NY), 2003.
Lesser Lives: The True History of the First Mrs. Meredith, Knopf, 1973, published as The True History of the First Mrs. Meredith and Other Lesser Lives, Heinemann (London), 1973.
Dashiell Hammett: A Life (also see below), Random House (New York, NY), 1983.
Also author of unproduced screenplays Grand Hotel, The Shadow Knows (based on her novel of the same title), and Hammett (based on her biography Dashiell Hammett: A Life).
(Author of preface) Margaret Gatty, Parables of Nature, Garland Publishing, 1976.
(Author of preface) George Sand, Mauprat, Da Capo Press (New York City), 1977.
Terrorists and Novelists (collected essays), Knopf (New York, NY), 1982.
(Author of preface) Tales and Stories of E.A. Poe, Vintage, 1991.
Natural Opium: Some Travelers' Tales, Knopf (New York, NY), 1993.
Into a Paris Quartier: Reine Margot's Chapel and Other Haunts of St.-Germain, National Geographic (Washington, DC), 2005.
Also author of preface to Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, c. 1979, and to Josephine Herhst: Collected Works, 1990. Contributor of essays and book reviews to periodicals, including the New York Times, New York Review of Books, San Francisco Chronicle, and Washington Post.
ADAPTATIONS: Le Divorce was released as a motion picture by Merchant-Ivory Productions in 2003; Lying Low was adapted for a sound recording with author performing the reading, American Audio Prose Library (Columbia, MO), 1981; audio books include Le Mariage, Recorded Books, 2000; L'Affair, Random House Audio, 2003; and Le Divorce, Harper-Audio, 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: In an age when writers tend to be pigeonholed, Diane Johnson remains a difficult author to categorize. Perhaps best known as an essayist and biographer, she got her start as a novelist and continues to write successfully in this vein. She is a teacher and scholar with expertise in nineteenth-century literature, yet she also lent a hand in writing the screenplay for The Shining, a popular horror film. While her initial focus was on women and their problems in society, she has since written sympathetically of a man who faced similar difficulties in Dashiell Hammett: A Life. Even her early works, which have been claimed as the province of feminists, were intended to cast a wider net, as Johnson explained to Susan Groag Bell in Women Writers of the West Coast: Speaking of Their Lives and Careers: "The kinds of crises, the particular troubles that I assign to my women characters, these are not necessarily meant to be feminist complaints." Johnson added: "In my mind, they may be more metaphysical or general. That sounds awfully pretentious, but I guess what I mean is that I'm not trying to write manifestos about female independence, but human lives."
Like many artists, Johnson sees herself as a craftsperson whose work should be judged on its merits as literature, not—as is often the case with women writers—on moral or extraliterary grounds. In her highly acclaimed collection of book reviews and essays, Terrorists and Novelists, Johnson addresses the particular problems faced by female novelists, chiding those male critics who "have not learned to read books by women and imagine them all to be feminist polemics." She told Bell: "The writer wants to be praised for the management of formal and technical aspects of the narrative and wide-ranging perceptions about society and perhaps the quality of her sensibility, not her own character, and, mainly you want your book to be a success on its own terms." Despite her long residence in California, Johnson told Bell that "a certain view of life, which I very much obtained from my Illinois childhood, does inform my work. In a couple of my books I have put a middle-western protagonist, always somebody who's displaced like I am, looking at the mess of today. This person remembers an orderly society from which subsequent events have seemed to depart." She maintains that it is the turmoil of modern society, rather than a personal preoccupation with disorder, that leads to the prevalence of violence in her books.
In her early fiction, Fair Game, Loving Hands at Home, and Burning, Johnson employs "a comic tone" as well as "a central female character who is uncertain about how to conduct her life," according to a Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook contributor. As is often the case with a writer's first fruits, these early novels largely escaped the notice of critics—at least initially. By the time Burning appeared, there were flickers of interest, though it was Johnson's potential as a novelist rather than the work at hand that attracted praise. Much criticism was leveled at Johnson's choice of subject. A Southern California story of disaster, Burning was viewed as a genre novel that had been approached in the same fashion many times before. Newsweek's Peter Prescott found Johnson "witty and serious." Book World contributor J.R. Frakes compared the crowded canvas of Johnson's apocalyptic tale to "a twelve ring circus" and welcomed its disastrous ending "almost as a relief," but then went on to praise Johnson's style, noting that she "superintends this asylum with cool disdain and a remarkable neo-classic elegance of phrase, sentence, and chapter. It is comforting to know that someone competent is in charge."
Her competence established, Johnson began to attract more serious attention; and her fourth novel, The Shadow Knows, was widely reviewed. Originally set in Los Angeles, the story was relocated to Sacramento because, as the author explained to Bell: "I decided after the reception of Burning that Los Angeles was too loaded a place in the minds of readers." The novel takes its title from an old radio melodrama (which featured the line, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.") and focuses on one terror-filled week in the life of a young divorcee and mother of four, known simply as N. When someone slashes her tires, leaves a strangled cat on her doorstep, threatens her over the telephone, and beats up her babysitter in the basement laundry room, N. becomes convinced that she is marked for murder. But who is the assailant? Her spiteful former husband? The wife of her married lover? The psychotic black woman who used to care for her children? Her jealous friend Bess, who comes to visit with a hunting knife in her purse? Or, worst of all, is it some nameless stranger, an embodiment of evil she does not even know? N.'s attempt to identify her enemy, and her imaginary dialogue with the Famous Inspector she conjures up to help her, make up the heart of the book.
Writing in the New Statesman, A.S. Byatt described the novel as a "cunning cross between the intensely articulate plaint of the under-extended intelligent woman and a conventional mystery, shading into a psychological horror-story." Nation contributor Sandra M. Gilbert called it "a sort of bitter parody of a genre invented by nineteenth-century men: the detective novel." Though it masquerades as a thriller, most reviewers acknowledge that The Shadow Knows is really a woman's story in which N. abandons what she calls her "safe" life to follow a more reckless path.
"In her attempts to create a fresh, true identity unconfined by the usual social and familial influences, N. must penetrate the evils which lurk in the hearts of men, even in her own heart in order to find her 'way in the dark,'" wrote a Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook contributor. "Thus, she has not only to uncover her potential murderer but also to deal with her own considerable problems and confusions." The critic added: "Because the pressures upon her are so great, the possibility arises that N.'s terrors are powerful projections of her own sense of guilt and confusion rather than appropriate responses to the malevolent acts of an outside aggressor." Some reviewers went so far as to suggest that N.'s problems are more imagined than real. "Understandably, N. would like to know who's doing all these bad things to her, if only to be sure that she's not making it all up," wrote Thomas R. Edwards in the New York Review of Books. "And since we also wonder if she may not be doing that, we share her desire for knowledge."
In her interview with Bell, Johnson asserted that such disbelief stems more from readers' biases than from the way the protagonist is portrayed. "There's [a] problem that comes from having as your central character a female person," said Johnson. "The male narrative voice is still accorded more authority. The female narrative voice is always questioned—is she crazy? Are the things she's saying a delusion, or reality? The narrator in The Shadow Knows was intended as an exact and trustworthy reporter of what was happening to her. But many reviewers, while in general liking her, also questioned her about her hysteria, her paranoia, her untrustworthiness. Is she mad or sane? So I began to notice that female narrators, if they're of a sexual age, of a reproductive age, of an age to have affairs, aren't considered trustworthy." Johnson added: "Nonetheless, I write about women of childbearing age, because I like to fly in the face of these prejudices and hope that I can make them authoritative and trustworthy reporters."
While women still figure prominently in Johnson's next novel, Lying Low, the focus has shifted from psychological to political concerns and from one protagonist to several. The book, which covers four days in the lives of four characters who inhabit a boarding house in Orris, California, is a "mosaic-like juxtaposition of small paragraphs, each containing a short description, a bit of action, reflections of one of the principal characters, or a mixture of all three," according to Robert Towers in the New York Times Book Review. Praising its artful construction, elegant style, and delicate perceptions, Towers called Lying Low "a nearly flawless performance," adding: "Despite the lack of any headlong narrative rush, one's interest in the working out of the story is maintained at a high level by the skillful, unobtrusive distribution of plot fragments." Newsweek's Peter Prescott commented that it "represents a triumph of sensibility over plot" and observed that, like other feminist novels, it is "most convincing when least dramatic. Condition, not action, is [its] true concern: the problems of women confronting, or trying to ignore, their desperate lot."
Johnson was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her 1987 novel, Persian Nights. This book chronicles the story of Chloe Fowler, a woman who accidentally finds herself traveling in Iran just prior to the revolution. Fowler is a physician's wife, and the couple looks forward to a trip to Iran where he will teach in a local hospital. Just before they arrive, he is called away on an emergency and Fowler decides to continue to Iran without him. Alone in a country where single women are suspect, she finds herself the target of government attention. Fowler tries to help a dissatisfied Iranian woman leave the country, and gets involved in several affairs, before she is forced to leave the country.
Critics noted Johnson's success in portraying a deeply flawed protagonist. Paul Gray of Time believed that "in creating such a selfish, flawed heroine, Johnson took a calculated risk: readers might not be able to see themselves and their prejudices through Chloe and make the appropriate adjustments toward the truth." However, he concluded that the book is "neither a bodice ripper nor a treatise on the Iranian revolution, but an intriguing compromise: an attempt to show major upheavals as a progress of small shocks." Joyce Johnson, writing in the Washington Post Book World, also remarked on the flawed central character: "Chloe Fowler reflects a peculiarly American malaise of the spirit. A certain emptiness, a feeling of never having been tested." The reviewer praised Johnson's ability to delve into the life of such an unsympathetic character, calling the book "a social comedy deftly played out in the shadows of an historical tragedy." Reviewer Rosemary Dinnage of the New York Review of Books commended Johnson for her ability to create a complex and clever novel where "nothing much, in the plotty, fictional way, really happens." She concluded that "I find this the best of Diane Johnson's novels; it has the unobtrusively good writing, the gripping readability … but with a broader, more expansive canvas."
In addition to novels, Johnson has written two biographies. Her portrait of the first Mrs. George Meredith, Lesser Lives: The True History of the First Mrs. Meredith, grew out of her doctoral dissertation. "In biographies of Meredith, there would always be this little paragraph about how he was first married to Mary Ellen Peacock who ran off and left him and then, of course, died, deserted and forlorn—like the woman in a Victorian story," Johnson told Bell. "I always thought, I bet there is her side of it too. This was when my own marriage was breaking up, and I was particularly interested in the woman's side of things."
Working from evidence she exhumed from letters and diaries, Johnson hypothesizes that the real Mary Ellen was a strong-willed, intelligent, free spirit, whose main sin was being out of step with her times. Raised by her father in the tradition of eighteenth-century individualism, she incited the wrath of her decidedly Victorian second husband, the famous novelist George Meredith, when she abandoned their loveless marriage to lead a life of her own. The portrait that survives of her as a crazed adulterer who lured a much younger man into marriage is more a reflection of George Meredith's vindictiveness than an indication of who Mary Ellen was.
Though some critics felt the biography was lacking in evidence, many praised its artful style. "Jump cutting from scene to scene, she shows what she thinks to be true, what she thinks might be true, and what, in all candor, she thinks no one can prove to be either true or false," wrote Catharine R. Stimpson in Ms. "Like a historian, she recovers pellets of the past. Like a psychologist, she applies theory and common sense to human behavior. Like a novelist, she takes imaginative liberties and worries about the internal coherence of her work of art." Stimpson added: "Lesser Lives has the buoyant vitality of a book in which a writer has taken risks, and won."
Johnson's commitment to biography as art presented special challenges in her study of mystery writer Dashiell Hammett and the writing of Dashiell Hammett: A Life. The first "authorized" Hammett biographer, Johnson had access to all his personal papers and the cooperation of his family and friends. But in exchange for these privileges, Hammett's executrix and long-time companion Lillian Hellman insisted that she be shown the final manuscript and be granted the right to decide whether or not the quoted material could stand. Although the two eventually had a falling out, Johnson obtained Hellman's permission to use Hammett's letters in her own way.
Using a novelistic approach, Johnson intersperses excerpts from Hammett's letters with short stretches of narrative that sometimes reflect her viewpoint, sometimes that of his family and friends. New York Times Book Review contributor George Stade compared the technique to one Hammett perfected in his own novels, "the method of the camera eye. We see what the characters do, hear what they say, note their gestures and postures, watch them assume positions toward each other, record their suspect attempts to account for themselves and each other." However, just as Hammett's readers had to decipher for themselves his protagonists' motives, so, too, must Johnson's readers "decide for themselves what made Hammett tick."
Because so much is left to the reader, some critics suggested that Johnson withheld judgment; others concluded that she cannot reveal what she does not know. As New York Times reviewer Christopher Lehmann-Haupt put it: "Silence was Hammett's weapon—silence turned against all bullies and lovers, against his readers and himself. At the bottom of that silence was an ocean of anger: that much this biography makes very clear. The mystery that remains—that will probably remain forever—is the true source of that anger." Characterizing Hammett as "a fundamentally passive individual who drifted through life with no clear motivations or deep impulses," Washington Post Book World critic Jonathan Yardley wondered if Johnson's inability to "penetrate through to the inner man" might just reflect the fact that there was nothing there. "Perhaps," Yardley speculated, "when you come right down to it, the 'mystery' lies within us rather than him: for expecting more of him, since he wrote good books, than was actually there, and for feeling frustrated when those expectations go unmet."
Ralph B. Sipper, on the other hand, found Johnson's "tracking of Hammett's inner life … the most revealing to date" and speculated in the Los Angeles Times Book Review that perhaps her "most delicate accomplishment is the fine line between iffy psychologizing and creative analysis." Describing the interpretative approach to biography as one in which the writer "studies the facts and filters them through her own sensibility," Sipper concluded that "Diane Johnson has done just that with her multifaceted subject and the result is pure light."
Johnson, a woman who has reluctantly traveled all over the globe with her husband, a physician, published the autobiographical work, Natural Opium, in 1993. The book is narrated by D., a character conspicuously similar to Johnson, who travels the globe while her husband J., an expert in infectious diseases, conducts his research. Critics have praised the book for its realistic feel, writer's attention to detail, and humor and intelligence. "What Ms. Johnson describes is not merely what the place was like, but—far more interesting—what it was like to be there," claimed Roxana Robinson in the New York Times Book Review. A tragic sled ride following a dinner in Switzerland, ethical physicians being drawn into the heart of corruption, and trying to visit her children who live at opposite ends of the globe are some of the topics she explores; disaster and destruction are almost always the themes. As Francine Prose observed in Yale Review, "what animates these stories is their intelligence and humor, their freshness of observation, and the tension between our hope that things will be all right—and our near-certainty that they won't." Robinson concluded that "any traveler would be fortunate to have D. as a companion, through the crowded streets of Beijing, the strange plains of Tanzania or the crowded and strange states of one's own mind."
A pair of fin-de-siecle novels, Le Divorce (1997) and Le Mariage (2000), lend a French flavor to Johnson's work. In the former, the action begins as Roxanne (Roxy) de Persand, a Californian living in Paris, is pregnant with her second child when she learns that her French husband is leaving the marriage. Roxy's tale is narrated by her younger sister Isabel Walker, "a film-school dropout who is good at describing scenes but doesn't always catch on to what they're really about," as Christopher Lehmann-Haupt described her in a New York Times review.
Isabel's arrival in Paris to help see Roxy through her pregnancy and "le divorce" sets in motion the younger sister's quest to become more worldly. ("If I do up my hair and wear my glasses, the men will be subtly more prosperous looking," she believes. "If I wear a scarf around my neck, I will be taken for a French girl.") Eventually she engages in an affair with her ex-brother-in-law's elderly Uncle Edgar, a retired but still-influential politician. Meanwhile, the custody of a possibly valuable painting lends the proceedings a farcical air, as the Walkers and Persands square off. The author, noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor, is noteworthy for "catching the class-bound, cool, utter self-assurance" of the upper-class French characters as well as the "determinedly frank, aggressive innocence of their American counterparts." Even when the events take a macabre turn—the husband's mistress goes on a shooting spree—Le Divorce remains, in the Kirkus contributor's view, a "shrewd, carefully detailed portrait" of personal strife, housed "in a well-paced, believably dramatic narrative."
Following Le Divorce was Le Mariage, Johnson's second take on cross-cultural relations. The players this time include American journalist Tim Nolinger, engaged to Parisian Anne-Sophie d'Arget, who runs a whimsical boutique. The passionate young couple comes to grips with doubts as the wedding day draws nearer. Johnson counters their story with the tale of another Franco-American couple. This time glamorous Clara Holly, a former actress, realizes her longtime marriage to reclusive film director Serge Cray is on its last legs. "Had she married in bad faith," Clara asks herself, "for conventional reasons like pregnancy, or because he was famous, which is easy to confuse with love?"
Clara takes in another American, the tourist Delia, who's had her passport stolen on her first day in Paris. The addition of the militant Delia to the Cray's home life results in domestic confusion, political extremism, and even Y2K paranoia. Through it all, Johnson "sprinkles the novel with McGuffins as if they were spices," according to Cathleen Schine, writing in the New York Review of Books. Schine added that "besides a murder, Le Mariage offers a medieval apocalyptic manuscript stolen from the Morgan Library just at the time Delia leaves the country, an apocalyptic right-wing extremist plot based in Oregon, and a dispute over bloods sports and French national monuments that threatens to turn into an international incident."
Schine admired the author's ability to integrate so many spins into one narrative: "More or less amusing on their own," she wrote, the plot points "blend together to create the satisfying aroma, if not the full flavor, of suspense. They also serve to bring Clara, Serge and Delia together with [Tim and Anne-Sophie]."
Of the juxtaposing of Le Mariage with Le Divorce, New York Times Book Review writer Angeline Goreau decided that "one doesn't have to read the two books together, but doing so adds yet another level to Johnson's playful social satire." Further comparing the novels, Schine found Le Divorce to be a "coming-of-age story in which the young narrator in the glory of her American naivete meets up in the expected manner with the glory of French savior-faire. Le Mariage, too, is a coming-of-age story, in its way, though not for young innocents." The author, she added, "makes her characters see those around them, both compatriots and foreigners, with a clarity that catches us, too, in its critical glare. These wonderful moments of awkwardness are Johnson's glory, for she manages to delight in the personal and cultural oddities of her pleasant but flawed characters not as shortcomings to be sneered at from across the sea, but as revelations."
In L'Affaire, the author continues her comedy of manners involving the differences in tastes and society among Europeans and Americans. This time, two vacationers, an English publisher, Adrian, and his young American wife, Kerry, are caught in an avalanche in the French Alps and end up comatose in a local hospital. California dot.com success story Amy Hawkins is also on hand and is soon caught up in the couple's lives when various legal questions arise surrounding their care and who will inherit their money if they die, which results in a complex family feud. "Once again Johnson has concocted a tasty literary bonbon with fully drawn characters," wrote Wilda Williams in the Library Journal. In a review in Booklist, Meredith Parets noted that the book "is exactly the kind of intricate, bittersweet comedy of manners her many fans have come to expect." International Fiction Review contributor Nora Foster Stovel commented: "Forty-one intriguing chapters and 340 delightful pages await the reader of L'Affaire."
The author turns to nonfiction and contributes to the National Geographic "Directions" series with her book Into a Paris Quartier: Reine Margot's Chapel and Other Haunts of St.-Germain. In the travelogue, Johnson explores the Paris quartier and its history, which includes serving as a home at various times to many notable Americans, such as Benjamin Franklin, Gertrude Stein, and Henry Miller. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the author "presents short mediations delightfully reminiscent of Colette," adding that "a subtle critique of contemporary America lurks at the edges of her portrait." Another reviewer writing in Publishers Weekly called the book "at once a quick lesson in history … as well as an insightful look at the mind of a novelist and her inspiration."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 5, 1976, Volume 13, 1983.
Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1980, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1981.
Johnson, Diane, Terrorists and Novelists, Knopf (New York, NY), 1982.
Johnson, Natural Opium: Some Travelers' Tales, Knopf (New York, NY), 1993.
Yalom, Marilyn, editor, Women Writers of the West Coast: Speaking of Their Lives and Careers, Capra (Santa Barbara, CA), 1983.
Book World, September 5, 1971, J.R. Frakes, review of Burning.
Booklist, December 1, 1996, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Le Divorce, p. 641; February 15, 2000, Danise Hoover, review of Le Mariage, p. 1080; September 15, 2003, Meredith Parets, review of L'Affaire, p. 181.
Boston Globe, November 20, 2003, Erica Noonan, review of L'Affaire.
Entertainment Weekly, October 3, 2003, Missy Schwartz, review of L'Affaire, p. 78.
Europe, May, 1997, Alisa K. Roth, review of Le Divorce, p. 48.
International Fiction Review, January, 2005, Nora Foster Stovel, review of L'Affaire, p. 136.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 1996, review of Le Divorce; March 15, 2005, review of Into a Paris Quartier: Reine Margot's Chapel and Other Haunts of St.-Germain, p. 335.
Library Journal, March 1, 2000, Wilda Williams, review of Le Mariage, p. 124 September 15, 2003, Wilda Williams, review of L'Affaire, p. 92; March 15, 2005, Linda M. Kaufmann, review of Into a Paris Quartier, p. 103.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, October 30, 1983, Ralph B. Sipper, review of Dashiell Hammett.
Miami Herald, May 5, 2000, Amy Driscoll, review of Le Mariage,
Ms., May, 1974, Catharine R. Stimpson, review of Lesser Lives: The True History of the First Mrs. Meredith, p. 36.
Nation, June 14, 1975, Sandra M. Gilbert, review of The Shadow Knows, p. 728.
New Republic, April 20, 1987, Dorothy Wickenden, review of Persian Nights, p. 45.
New Statesman, June 6, 1975, A.S. Byatt, review of The Shadow Knows, p. 760.
Newsweek, October 25, 1971, Peter Prescott, review of Burning, p. 118; October 16, 1978, Peter S. Prescott, review of Lying Low, p. 111.
New York Daily News, October 12, 2003, Sherryl Connelly, review of L'Affaire.
New York Review of Books, February 20, 1975, Thomas R. Edwards, review of The Shadow Knows, p. 34; April 23, 1987, Rosemary Dinnage, review of Persian Nights, p. 14; May 25, 2000, Cathleen Schine, review of Le Mariage, p. 29.
New York Times, October 5, 1983, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Dashiell Hammett: A Life, p. 21; November 22, 1990, D.J.R. Bruckner, "Writer of Hospital Novel Has Copy Doctor on Call"; January 23, 1997, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Le Divorce; April 16, 1997, Alan Riding, "Siren Paris: Still Luring the Literati"; September 19, 2003, Michiko Kakutani, review of L'Affaire.
New York Times Book Review, October 16, 1983, George Stade, review of Dashiell Hammett, p. 1; January 24, 1993, Roxana Robinson, review of Natural Opium: Some Travelers' Tales, p. 8; February 2, 1997, Malcolm Bradbury, review of Le Divorce, p. 10; April 16, 2000, Angeline Goreau, review of Le Mariage, p. 8, and Bill Goldstein, "An American in …," p. 10.
Orlando Sun Sentinel, October 3, 2003, Nancy Pate, review of Le Divorce.
People, April 13, 1987, Campbell Geeslin, review of Persian Nights, p. 20; March 24, 1997, Joanne Kaufman, review of Le Divorce, p. 37; Ocotober 27, 2003, Francine Prose, review of L'Affaire, p. 48.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 26, 2003, Kim Crow, review of L'Affaire.
Publishers Weekly, October 21, 1996, review of Le Divorce, p. 70; January 31, 2000, review of Le Mariage, p. 78; April 11, 2005, review of Into A Paris Quarter, p. 43.
San Francisco Chronicle, September 28, 2003, Regan McMahon, review of L'Affaire.
Time, March 23, 1987, Paul Gray, review of Persian Nights, p. 83.
Wall Street Journal, April 20, 1987, Richard Locke, review of Persian Nights; January 10, 1997, Merle Rubin, review of Le Divorce.
Washington Post Book World, October 9, 1983, Jonathan Yardley, review of Dashiell Hammett, p. 3; March 22, 1987, p. 1; May 1, 1988, Joyce Johnson, review of Persian Nights, p. 12.
Yale Review, July, 1993, Francine Prose, review of Natural Opium, pp. 122-133.
Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (May 9, 2006), information on author's film work.
Paris through Expatriate Eyes, http://www.paris-expat.com/ (May 8, 2006), "A Conversation with Diane Johnson."
Penguin Group Web site, http://us.penguingroup.com/ (May 9, 2006), interview with author.
Interview, American Audio Prose Library (Columbia, MO), 1981.