She was young, Asian and lived in Hollywood Park, Sacramento. I don’t remember how we met. I don’t remember why we didn’t stay in contact. I do remember sitting on the wooden bleachers behind a softball field in William Land Park, late at night, talking about life and books. I don’t remember her name. She told me her favorite author was Joan Didion. 30 years later, I am still reading her favorite author.
It wasn’t until years later, when I had read most of Didion’s books, did it all make sense. Joan Didion grew up in Sacramento and went to McClatchy High School. So did she, what ever her name was. I will hold onto the belief that she liked Didion not just because of her provenance but because of her writing.
I will admit that I was attracted to Didion’s earlier work because it centered on the Sacramento area. Landmarks I was familiar with. But she also wrote about the improbable and intractable nature of California, of which I was also fascinated with. But what keeps me coming back to Didion is her prose.
Didion can employee a retitive pattern to words, phrases and images that is delightful. Each repetition is meant to be viewed from a different perspective, in new light of the circumstances. I am also attracted to authors who can create a single sentence that can stand on its own. Such as Didion’s, “The detritus of this misplaced belief now fills the drawers and closets of my apartment in New York.” (From Blue Nights) This sentence has particular relevance and importance in the novel. But it also stands on its own apart from any context in the novel. You could construct a whole new book based on this sentence. At the very least, you can turn this sentence over in your mind and let it shed light on your own life and art.
The following quotes, which are also tweets, are from the book Blue Nights. My intention was to highlight “tweetable” Didion sentences that can hold meaning on many levels to a variety of people. Didion wrote Blue Nights after the death of her husband and daughter. The novel focuses on the life of her daughter growing up in southern California. I have tried to stay as original and true to the actual text as I could. However, there are times when I have to edit a sentence or sentiment to get it to fit into a tweet. Please forgive me.
|Blue nights are the opposite of the dying of the brighness, but they are also it’s warning. -Didion|
|Children with leis don’t wear coats, she advised me. -Didion|
|Did giving up my CA drivers license say that I would never be 15 and a half? -Didion|
|One suburbia house in Brentwood. It was exactly that. She called it. – Didion|
|Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember. -Didion|
|When we talk about mortality we are talking about our children. I said that. -Didion|
|Medicine, I have reason since to notice more than once, remains an imperfect art. -Didion|
|Yes, agreed, a banality, of course time passes. -Didion|
|Time passes. Did I believe the blue nights could last forever? -Didion|
|One of the nuerologists ventured that this particular aneurysm “doesn’t look ready to blow”. -Didion|
|I realized that I was no longer afraid to die: I was afraid not to die. -Didion|
|One further turn of the screw: if I had never asked would she still be alive? -Didion|
|He failed to mention the King snakes that dropped down from the rafters into the open corvette. -Didion|
|We still counted happiness and health and lvoe and luck and beautiful children as “ordinary blessings”. -Didion|
|I had lost my authority. Was I the problem? Was I always the problem? -Didion|
|I wrote two books watching her clothes blow on those lines. -Didion|
|Brush your teeth, brush your hair, shush I’m working. -Didion|
|She had called Camarillo, she advised us, to find out what she needed to do if she was going crazy. -Didion|
|She was already a person. I could never afford to see that. -Didion|
|I no longer want reminders of what was, what got broken, what got lost, what got wasted. -Didion|
|The detitrius of the misplaced belief now fills the drawers and closets of my apartment in NY. -Didion|