Joan Didion

Joan Didion (dĬd´ēŏn), 1934–, American writer, b. Sacramento, Calif., grad. Univ. of California, Berkeley, 1956. Her works often explore the despair of contemporary American life, a condition she views as produced by the disintegration of morality and values. She is known for a cool and almost brittle style that emphasizes the concrete. Her novels include Run River (1963), A Book of Common Prayer (1977), Salvador (1983), Democracy (1984), and The Last Thing He Wanted (1996). Didion also has written screenplays (with her late husband John Gregory Dunne) as well as journalistic and critical pieces for such periodicals as the New Yorker and New York Review of Books. Among her books of essays the two most important are Slouching toward Bethlehem (1968) and The White Album (1979), both groundbreaking analyses of contemporary life and culture that combine the personal with the topical. Later essay collections include After Henry (1992) and Political Fictions (2001). Other works include Where I Was From (2003), part memoir, part disenchanted revisionist portrait of California, and the memoirs The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), an account of the grief-filled year that followed her husband's sudden death, and Blue Nights (2011), the anguished story of her grown daughter's death.

See studies by K. U. Henderson (1981), E. G. Friedman, ed. (1984), M. R. Winchell (rev. ed. 1989), and S. Felton, ed. (1994).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Joan Didion: Selected full-text books and articles

Reading Joan Didion By Lynn Marie Houston; William V. Lombardi Libraries Unlimited, 2009
The Art of Fact: Contemporary Artists of Nonfiction By Barbara Lounsberry Greenwood Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Joan Didion's Lambent Light"
Literary Selves: Autobiography and Contemporary American Nonfiction By James N. Stull Greenwood Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Minimal Self: Joan Didion's Journalism of Survival"
Literary Nonfiction: Theory, Criticism, Pedagogy By Chris Anderson Southern Illinois University Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Joan Didion begins on p. 264
Empire of Conspiracy: The Culture of Paranoia in Postwar America By Timothy Melley Cornell University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Joan Didion's "White Album" begins on p. 26
Writing War: Fiction, Gender, and Memory By Lynne Hanley University of Massachusetts Press, 1991
Librarian’s tip: "To El Salvador: Joan Didion" begins on p. 73 and "Reconstructing Vietnam: Joan Didion and Doris Lessing" begins on p. 102
A Sourcebook of American Literary Journalism: Representative Writers in an Emerging Genre By Thomas B. Connery Greenwood Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: "Joan Didion" begins on p. 353
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