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Joan Didion

Anyone reading anything by J. Didion?

I just bought the White Album, which is an essay collection she published in 1979. Was drawn toward it by a recommendation from Bret Easton Ellis, who cites her as being a writer whose work encouraged him to write. I'd also read about her a long time ago in the Salon Reader's Guide to Contemporary Literature: the guide describes a story of hers in which the main character, having just aborted her baby, goes to get her hair done, unaffected and untrouble by the abortion. So, the same kind of casual nihilism for which we all seem to have such affection.

The first lines of the White Album: "We tell ourselves stories in order to live. The princess is caged in the consulate. The man with the candy will lead the children into the sea. The naked woman on the ledge outside the window on the sixteenth floor is a victim of accidie, or the naked woman is an exhibitionist, and it would be 'interesting' to know which. We tell ourselves that it makes some difference whether the naked woman is about to commit a mortal sin or is about to register a political protest, or is about to be, the Aristophanic view, snatched back to the human condition by the fireman in priest's clothing just visible in the window behind her, the one smiling at the telephoto lens. We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five."