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different ways of looking at my native land and to try to understand what it is – it's a big, complicated animal.” Among his roles at Washington University is editorial responsibility for The Common Reader, a collection of articles, reviews and creative nonfiction.
Didion opened the doors for generations of female essayists.
She was one of the few women pounding out prose right next to Hunter S.
Her essay “Self-Respect: Its Source, Its Power,” from Slouching Toward Bethlehem, was first published in Vogue in 1961, and became a touchstone for women at the time.
Her novels Play It As It Lays, A Book of Common Prayer, Democracy, and The Last Thing He Wanted were, and still are, celebrated.
In 1970 Lore Segal at The New York Times wrote, “A new novel by Joan Didion is something of an event.” Four decades later, the novels might not be new, but reading them still feels like an event.
If, as Cheryl Strayed proclaimed a few months back, “Essayists who happen to be women are having a banner year,” then those essayists owe a lot to Joan Didion.
Gerald Early is an acclaimed scholar, critic and essayist.
He is the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters in the African and African American Studies Department at Washington University, and among his many interests is the wide world of sports – especially baseball.
Novelist, essayist, journalist, and screenwriter Joan Didion turns 80 on Friday, and as one of the greatest American writers alive, it’s safe to say she’s an elder stateswoman of letters, a patron saint of writing, and a voice of her — and our — generation.
Didion was born on December 5, 1934 in Sacramento, California, and she got her start as a staff writer at Vogue right after she graduated from UC Berkeley.