Joan Didion dead, “New reporter”, who explored culture and chaos – Obituary

I went to a high school graduation (not my year) that Joan Didion spoke at. She said (it was an all-girls school; I’m paraphrasing): Some parents pride themselves on sheltering their daughters from the real world as a point of pride. It shouldn’t be. RIP.

Joan Didion (Joan Didion) in 1972. “Her talent is to write cultural emotions,” said author Katie Roiphe. “She managed to convey the spirit of the 1960s and 1970s through her own high quality and personality.

Joan Didion’s sharp coverage of Californian culture and the chaos of the 1960s made her a major advocate of new news, and her novels “As You Like It” and “Common Prayer Book” declared a difficult The arrival of the era. The simple and unique voice in American novels died on Thursday at her home in Manhattan. She is 87 years old.

According to an email sent by Paul Bogaards, an executive of Ms. Didion’s publisher Knopf, the cause was Parkinson’s disease.

Ms. Didion gained fame for publishing a series of insightful, searchable feature articles in Life magazine and the Saturday Evening Post, which explored the fragile edges of post-war American life. Her hometown of California provides her with the most abundant materials. In a sharp and familiar episode, she captures its harshness and beauty, its role as a magnet to attract restless people, its golden promise and rapidly disappearing past, and its power as a cultural laboratory.

“We believe in a new beginning,” she wrote in “Where Am I From” (2003), which is a spiritual portrait of the country. “We believe in good luck. We believe that the miners caught the last stake and hit the Comstock vein.”

In the two early seminal collections of essays “Lazy to Bethlehem” (1968) and “The White Album” (1979), she turned her calm and worried gaze to the hippies of Haight-Ashbury, and the likes Bishop James Pike and Howard Hughes and other weird people and searchers about the film industry in the post-studio era.

Ms. Didion’s report reflects Norman Mailer’s prescription for “extremely personalized news reporting, in which the character of the narrator is one of the ways readers ultimately evaluate the experience.”

Her attraction to trouble spots, disintegrating personality and initial confusion are natural. In the title article of “The White Album,” she included her psychiatric assessment after she complained of dizziness and nausea after arriving at the St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.

Part of its content is: “In her opinion, she lives in a world moved by strange, contradictory, incomprehensible, especially cunning motives, which inevitably make them fall into conflict and failure.” Didi This description, which Ms. Weng has no objection to, can describe the typical heroine in her novel.

“Her talent is to write cultural emotions,” author Katie Roif said in an interview. “She managed to convey the spirit of the 1960s and 1970s through her own highly special and personal-that is, seemingly personal-writing. She fits perfectly with the times, is slightly paranoid, slightly hysterical, and highly sensitive. . This is the perfect combination of the writer and the present.”

Ms. Didion later turned to political reporting and wrote long articles about the Salvadoran Civil War and the Cuban immigration culture in Miami for The New York Review of Books; they were published in book form as “El Salvador” and “Miami”.

“She is fearless, original, and an amazing observer,” Robert B. Silvers said in an obituary in 2009. He was the author of The New York Review of Books (The New York Book Review). Editor of New York Review of Books), which began publishing Ms. Didion’s work in the early 1970s. “She is very skeptical of traditional views and is very good at finding people or situations that can tell a wider picture. She is an excellent reporter.”

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