Writer Joan Didion, whose essays, memoirs, novels and screenplays reflected contemporary American society as well as her grief over the deaths of her husband and daughter, has died at the age of 87.
The cause of death was Parkinson’s disease, its publisher Knopf said in a statement Thursday. Didion first emerged as a writer of substance in the late 1960s as an early practitioner of “new journalism,” which allowed writers to take a narrative, more personal perspective.
His 1968 collection of essays “Slouching Toward Bethlehem”, a title borrowed from poet William Butler Yeats, looks at the culture of his native California. The title essay offered an inconsistent view of the emerging hippie culture in San Francisco, and a New York Times review called the book “some of the best magazine pieces published by anyone in this country in recent years”.
Didion had an air of casual glamor and a writerly calm, and in her heyday was often photographed in oversize sunglasses or simply relaxing with a cigarette hanging from her hand. She turned 80 in 2015, when French fashion house Celine used her as a model in an ad campaign for their sunglasses.
The tragedy inadvertently led to a career revival in the 2000s as Didion wrote about the death of her husband, author John Gregory Dunne in “The Year of Magical Thinking” and daughter Quintana Roo Dunne in “Blue Nights”. .
Didion’s works were pragmatic, confessional, and tinged with ennui and skepticism. The Los Angeles Times praised her as a “unique stylist” with “piercing insight and an excellent command of language”.
British author Martin Amis referred to Didion as “the poetess of the Great California Emptiness” and she was particularly acute in writing about the state. His 1970 novel “Play It As It Lays” depicted Los Angeles through the eyes of a troubled actor who was glamorous and uncaring, while the 2003 essay collection “Where I Was From” was about the state’s culture as well as himself. was in And his family’s long history there.
“I write solely to know what I’m thinking, what I see, what I see, and what it means,” Didion told his alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, in a speech in 1975. said in.
from California to New York
His life and career were captured in the 2017 documentary “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold” by his nephew, actor-filmmaker Griffin Dunne. The New Yorker magazine called the film, which borrowed its title from another Yates work, “an intimate, affectionate and partial portrait.”
Didion ended up in New York by winning a college essay contest that led to an internship at Vogue magazine in the late 1950s. Two years later she met Dunn.
Didion and Dunne, who had been married for nearly 40 years, split their lives between Southern California and New York and managed to become leading figures in both literary circles and Hollywood.
The parties at his Malibu beach house, where Harrison Ford worked as a carpenter before becoming of “Star Wars” fame, attracted crowds that included singer Janis Joplin, filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese, and actor Warren. Beatty, who was reportedly infatuated with him. Didion.
Dunne was demonstrative and serious, while Didion could come across as an introvert. Their marriage was rocky at times, and Dunne briefly moved to Las Vegas. In an essay in “The White Album”, Didion wrote that she once took “vacation in lieu of filing for divorce” in Hawaii.
Through this they edited each other’s work and collaborated on the script for the 1976 film “A Star Is Born,” “The Panic in Needle Park,” the 1971 film that gave Al Pacino his first starring role, with As well as the film adaptation. “Play It As It Lays” and Dunne’s novel “True Confession”.
The couple moved to New York in 1988, and after Dunn suffered a heart attack at the dinner table in 2003, Didion wrote about the ensuing heartache in “The Year of Magical Thinking,” which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction. “Grief becomes a place none of us will know until we reach it,” she wrote.
Twenty months after Dunne’s death, Didion returned to a place of grief when Quintana Roo died of acute pancreatitis following a series of health problems, which he wrote about in “Blue Nights”.
Little Didion dropped to 75 pounds (34 kg) after death, but began to come out of it by working on a female stage version of “Magical Thinking”, which opened on Broadway in 2007 starring Vanessa Redgrave and with David Hare directing.
Didion, whose other books included the novel “A Book of Common Prayer” and the non-fiction works “Miami” and “Salvador”, was presented the National Medal of Arts in 2013 by President Barack Obama.