Joan Didion (1934 – 2021)

Joan Didion (/ˈdɪdiən/; December 5, 1934 – December 23, 2021) was an American writer who launched her career in the 1960s after winning an essay contest sponsored by Vogue magazine. Her writing during the 1960s through the late 1970s engaged audiences in the realities of the counterculture of the 1960s and the Hollywood lifestyle. Her political writing often concentrated on the subtext of political and social rhetoric. … During her seven years at Vogue, Didion worked her way up from promotional copywriter to associate feature editor. Mademoiselle published Didion’s article ‘Berkeley’s Giant: The University of California’ in January 1960. While at Vogue, and homesick for California, she wrote her first novel, Run, River (1963), about a Sacramento family as it comes apart. Writer and friend John Gregory Dunne helped her edit the book and they moved into an apartment together. A year later they married, and Didion returned to California with her new husband; they also adopted daughter Quintana Roo. Didion and Dunne wrote many newsstand-magazine assignments. ‘She and Dunne started doing that work with an eye to covering the bills, and then a little more,’ Nathan Heller reported in The New Yorker. ‘Their [Saturday Evening] Post rates allowed them to rent a tumbledown Hollywood mansion, buy a banana-colored Corvette Stingray, raise a child, and dine well.’ She published her first work of nonfiction, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, a collection of magazine pieces about her experiences in California, in 1968. The New York Times referred to it as containing ‘grace, sophistication, nuance, [and] irony’. Didion’s novel Play It as It Lays, set in Hollywood, was published in 1970, and A Book of Common Prayer appeared in 1977. In 1979, she published The White Album, another collection of magazine pieces that previously appeared in Life, Esquire, The Saturday Evening Post, The New York Times, and The New York Review of Books. Didion’s book-length essay Salvador (1983) was written after a two-week trip to El Salvador with her husband. The next year, she published the novel Democracy, the story of a long but unrequited love affair between a wealthy heiress and an older man, a CIA officer, against the background of the Cold War and the Vietnam War. …”
LitHub: Remembering Joan Didion
NY Times: Joan Didion, ‘New Journalist’ Who Explored Culture and Chaos, Dies at 87
1960s: Days of Rage – Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968), The Women’s Movement (July 30, 1972), How the Barbizon Gave Sylvia Plath and Joan Didion Freedom and Creative Autonomy – By Paulina Bren, The Panic in Needle Park – Jerry Schatzberg (1971), Hanging Out With Joan Didion: What I Learned About Writing From an American Master

Didion’s working spaces

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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