I have finally completed the second book, Where I Was From, in my “read all of Joan Didion” goal. And it was a lot like eating my broccoli. Good writing, smart writing, at times hard to chew and gag down. A small book (226 pages) took me… realistically… months to finish. But there is a good reason (many, many good reasons) why reading all of Didion is important to me. 1) she is, quite possibly, the number one biggest influence in my own writing. 2) she is a reader’s writer, a writer’s writer, the whole shebang. She uses amazing literary references to explore even her most personal and emotionally tragic moments (seen in Where I Was From and A Year Of Magical Thinking) and 3) she writes paragraphs like this:
Douglas had already, in 1993, moved part of its MD-80 production to Salt Lake City. Douglas had already moved part of what remained of its C-17 production to St. Louis. Douglas had already moved the T-45 to St. Louis.
(God, that’s so, so, so Didion)
It would be a while before I realized that “me” is what we think when our parents die, even at my age, who will look out for me now, who will remember me as I was, who will know what happens to me now, where will I be from.
Gagging down some of the dry non-fiction (for not all non-fiction is dry, my friends) was worth the gems I got out of this book, the moments of happy where I felt like I was visiting with an old friend, someone who I can exclaim “That is so you!” to, and the moments where she taught me, yet again, how to write a really fantastic sentence.
If you are from California, have any interest in the state’s social growth from it’s naming until now, any interest at all into reading theories on what makes California tick, I highly recommend it. I’ll always recommend Didion.