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Joan Didion - now there's an inspiring woman
Sometimes a woman comes along who can see through walls, observe the tics and nuances of society, can lay open love and hypocrisy and grief and all the mess and magic of life.
Joan Didion was that woman. What a fabulous and inspiring woman.
Joan Didion died on Christmas Eve at 87. She has left a legacy of essays, plays and novels.
Didion famously rubbished her own skills at interviewing and reporting: “My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does.”
Over decades, Didion built her own mythology; more than one journalist, when interviewing her, noted her quietness and frail frame with surprise. Her elegant style and interest in fashion, fostered at Vogue, also saw her revered as a a symbol of “cool”; at the age of 80, she became the face of French fashion house Céline.
One of my pleasures is, when time and circumstance allow, to return to the Joan Didion documentary on Netflix, "The Centre will not Hold".
I don't know how many times I've watched it now. I always get something new and rich from it. Even the images of her bookcovers thrill me.
If I had to put documentaries that move me, ones about women, into a paper bag to carry around with me for the moment when I can rummage round and pull one out to savour, the one about Janis Joplin would be there too. I last watched that in the bath, sinking beneath bubbles as she struggled to swim with the times.
But of course there are so many more and, maybe, you'd share your choices here too. (I'd love that!)
For me, as someone who loves sucking up sentences like spaghetti, stories of writers, poets, wordy people with words and song and great big Self Expression can't fail to move me. They make me yearn for the tap tap tap of the typewriter. They make me wish I was as brave as they are.
One day. One day
If you haven't watched it already check out the documentary 'Joan Didion - the centre will not hold' on Netflix, and if you have already watched it... treat yourself and watch it again
R.I.P. Joan Didion and thank you for the stories you have told.
Here are some of her books:
- Slouching Towards Bethlehem
- The Year of Magical Thinking
- Play it as it Lays
- The White Album
- Blue Nights
- Let Me Tell You What I Mean
- South and West
- The Last Thing He Wanted
- Political Fictions
- We Tell Ourselves Stories in order to Live