Things We Saw Today: Literary Icon Joan Didion Dies at 87
Legendary novelist and essayist Joan Didion died Thursday at age 87. According to a statement from her publisher, the cause of death was complications from Parkinson’s disease. In a month that also saw the deaths of bell hooks and Eve Babitz, Didion’s death is another massive blow to the world of incisive, insightful writing.
Didion was a major force in American literature for the last half-century. She wrote about California countercultures of the 1960s and 70s; she wrote about politics, and about grief. She was also impossibly cool. I honestly don’t know many writers who weren’t hugely impacted by her work.
From BuzzFeed’s remembrance:
Didion married her own search for spirituality and purpose with her country’s, making a complex, overwhelming cultural shift personal. Her writings changed and defined American journalism and history.
And from The Atlantic:
With an anthropologist’s eye and an artist’s imagination, Didion documented disillusionments and disenchantments—dreams both quick and dead. She named her own regrets and mourned the paths she’d left untaken. She examined her grief. She examined others’ grief too. She wrote about California, the place of her birth and later her chosen home, as dusty and often delirious, her writing conjuring a place where most everything, dreams and cars and homes and people, might be made disposable. Something better will surely be in store, her characters tell themselves, because that is the line they’ve been told. They throw away what they have to make space for what they won’t.
When Barack Obama awarded Didion the National Medal of Arts in 2013, he rightly called her “one of most celebrated American writers of her generation.”
“For her mastery of style in writing. Exploring the culture around us and exposing the depths of sorrow, Ms. Didion has produced works of startling honesty and fierce intellect, rendered personal stories universal, and illuminated the seemingly peripheral details that are central to our lives,” he said.
Peace and love, Joan Didion.💔 pic.twitter.com/Y8y0LJDFjQ
— Susanna Hoffs (@SusannaHoffs) December 23, 2021
Thank you, Joan Didion, for explaining everything to us. I hope you’re finally reunited with your girl and partner, explaining the afterlife to everyone there. pic.twitter.com/sDlpb67TlZ
— Glennon Doyle (@GlennonDoyle) December 23, 2021
YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING was the first book I can recall picking up to read with the intention of trying to understand grief. It was so foreign to me then; it felt like Joan Didion (also foreign to me then) was explaining that my life bordered a country I hadn’t realized existed.
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) December 23, 2021
thank you, joan didion pic.twitter.com/LrnaNWnH08
— kcl (@kycarrerolopez) December 23, 2021
Tonight we celebrate Joan Didion’s life by standing in the Santa Ana winds and describing our migraine in excruciating detail.
— Louis Virtel (@louisvirtel) December 23, 2021
didion proved you didnt have to be a nerd to be a writer. that is a huge legacy on its own.
— ☺︎ p.e. ☺︎ moskowitz ☺︎ (@_pem_pem) December 23, 2021
rip joan didion you would’ve hated these corny ass tweets
— hot girl midsommar (@verymimi) December 23, 2021
- Paul Feig (and the rest of us) would like to know why the 2016 Ghostbusters is left out of the new franchise box set. (via Screen Rant)
- A bunch of conspiracy theorists got together for a QAnon superspreader event, got sick, and have now convinced themselves they were the victims of an anthrax attack. Sure, seems likely. (via Vice)
Which one do you think Keanu would pick? pic.twitter.com/vXVzTsfRtN
— Sonic the Hedgehog (@SonicMovie) December 22, 2021
- Kim Potter has been found guilty of manslaughter in the murder of Daunte Wright. (via NPR)
- These were the most popular library books of 2021. (via Quartz)
Happy holidays, everybody! Stay safe and here’s a delightful dinosaur capybara for you:
I ran out of capybara pictures so here is a dinosaur instead pic.twitter.com/Nau08ymo91
— CAPYBARA MAN (@CAPYBARA_MAN) December 23, 2021
(image: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
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