Joan Didion, Inc.
“Didion thinks that this is why the press latches on to stories like the Jogger’s. It’s not because those stories tell us who we are. It’s because they don’t. They leave unexamined and untouched the class antagonisms and economic failures that are the underlying causes of socially destructive events. Personal stories feed the American illusion that the system is never the cause of anything. Those stories are always about fortitude, character, loyalty to the group.”
Well. Louis Menand’s essay/review of a new Joan Didion biography, for The New Yorker, is very good. I think you should read it. I have already said what I wanted to say about Joan Didion, although the topic is, as Menand says above, a blank slate that people can project onto forever: as a person who was and is “master of the author photo,” Didion is and will forever be a shortcut for social concepts that defy our vocabulary’s capability for proper explanations.
In any case, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the growing Didion Economy. Soon there will be many, many more biographies of varying levels of authorization, not to mention the movies and essays and thinly veiled tell-alls disguised as fiction. That is the cycle of fame, or at least of this kind of fame. I just don’t know if I’m ready to turn her into the latest season of True Detective or whatever!!