CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 12, 1995
"Some of us who live in arid parts of the world think about water with a reverence which others might find excessive." --JOAN DIDION "The White Album"
December 27, 2006 |
When writer John Gregory Dunne died, his wife, Joan Didion, channeled her grief into a compelling and bestselling memoir, "The Year of Magical Thinking." Now a stage version, written by Didion and starring Vanessa Redgrave, is coming to Broadway, opening March 29 at the Booth Theatre. Preview performances begin March 6 for a six-month engagement. "Magical Thinking" will be directed by David Hare, whose latest play, "The Vertical Hour," is on view at Broadway's Music Box Theatre.
December 7, 2005 |
Writer Joan Didion is adapting her recent bestselling memoir, "The Year of Magical Thinking," into a play. The memoir dealt with the death of her writer husband and the ultimately fatal illness of her daughter. The one-woman play will be produced by Scott Rudin, who approached her with the idea, and directed by British playwright David Hare.
October 9, 2013 |
We don't often think of it that way, but New York is a city for the young. There's something about its myth, its promise, and also about its hardness; it lures us and then it breaks our will. This is the point of Joan Didion's 1967 essay “Goodbye to All That” (published in her landmark collection “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”); “All I mean is that I was very young in New York,” she writes, “and that at some point the golden rhythm was broken, and I am not that young anymore.” Didion's line serves as the epigraph for “Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York” (Seal Press: 270 pp., $16 paper)
October 17, 2013 |
Running on a mere 2½ hours of sleep and exactly 12 hours after winning the Man Booker Prize for her novel “The Luminaries,” Eleanor Catton sat down for an interview with the Guardian's Charlotte Higgins and brought her A game. The 28-year-old novelist from New Zealand, the youngest ever to win the prize, addressed the critics who have approached her complex novel with trite assumptions about gender. Catton said the "people whose negative reaction [to 'The Luminaries']
June 14, 1992 |
Last fall, as I prepared to start writing a regular column about California, I called a friend, Richard Saltus, in search of reassurance. I explained my new assignment and Richard, without a prompt, moved to the heart of my unease. "Uh-oh," he said. "Joan." No elaboration was needed. By Joan, he meant Joan Didion, a writer who floats above anyone who would write about California like a taunting angel. Freeways, canyon fires, the Sunset Strip, Berkeley.
September 12, 2012 |
Joan Didion's stage adaptation of her 2005 memoir, "The Year of Magical Thinking," is a wrenchingly meditative one-hander that delves into the mechanics of loss - namely, the sudden death of Didion's longtime husband and writing partner, John Gregory Dunne, and the agonizingly prolonged decline of her beloved daughter, Quintana. Dunne's death was nearly instantaneous. Quintana, on the other hand, succumbed only after the course of many months and several mysterious maladies. Quintana died after Didion's book had already gone to press, and Didion's controversial refusal to delay publication and update her work is addressed in her play - sometimes to a fault. Strikingly, the death of Dunne gets somewhat short shrift while Quintana's more gradual attenuation is more exhaustively described.
July 23, 2012 |
Thanks to the miracle of DVR, my wife Rae and I spent the other night watching “Double Indemnity,” a film we hadn't seen in years. Directed by Billy Wilder, with a script by Wilder and Raymond Chandler and based on a novel by James M. Cain, it is a movie with an almost perfect noir pedigree. More than this, though, it is a classic story, one that speaks to both its moment (the book was written in the 1930s) and to ours. As Joan Didion writes in her essay “Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream” : “This is the country in which a belief in the literal interpretation of Genesis has slipped imperceptibly into a belief in the literal interpretation of 'Double Indemnity.'" That's a great line, vintage Didion, and it highlights what she does so often in her writing: to stretch the particular until it seems universal, as well.
March 18, 2012 |
The Guardians: An Elegy Sarah Manguso Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 128 pp., $20 For more than a year, I've been on a reader's grief patrol. Memoir about a mother dying of cancer? Story of a husband's stroke? Taking care of a declining relative on a remote barren coast? Yes, yes, yes, all those and more. I try to swear them off, but I'm still drawn to these books. They are to me a form of secular reckoning; the faithful have their way of facing the big questions of life and death and sorrow.