November 16, 2011
"Writing has taught me practically everything I know. The act of doing it."

Joan Didion, yesterday at the Herbst Theater, on how a job becomes more than a job.

This quote will come as no surprise if you’ve read Where I Was From, The Year of Magical Thinking, or Blue Nights. Listening to her last night made it even clearer to me why she’s had such an impact in literature and journalism.

She is so deeply rooted in reality, so acutely aware of what it does to her, and so determined to understand it. “I have no ability to think in the abstract," she said. Her prowess is to have embraced this "shortcoming" and turned it into her work’s defining trait. Hers is one of the most powerful voices in the English-speaking world today.

It isn’t just the precise way in which she looks at the string of events that make life. It’s the commitment with which she identifies and describes their context, and her categorical refusal to remove herself from any of it. It’s about figuring it out. She’s the Queen of No-Nonsense. She’s the quintessential Anti-Know-It-All. She’s complacency’s fiercest enemy.

Her interviewer was Vendela Vida, who could’ve done a much better job of the opportunity she was afforded. Still, it was a treat to watch Didion step onto the stage, as was the chance to contrast her highly breakable frame with the strength, wit, and wisdom of her words.

The act of doing it.

— From SF.

  1. whileyouweresleeping posted this
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