Joan Didion, Where I Was From (2003)

My own little thoughts on Joan Didion, at Image Journal:

Joan Didion is not a nice person. I would almost put her in the category of Michel Houellebecq and Witold Gombrowicz. But not quite. I’m not sure what quality it is that holds her just at the cusp of “evil writer” without her falling in. Perhaps it is that she believes, though she would never put it this way, in the redemptive capacity of the act of writing.

This book is nowhere near her best or most interesting. But it is special to me. Like Didion, I grew up in California, more or less. Nobody writes about the sad longings of Californians as Joan Didion does. Nobody hates California as much as she does. And nobody, therefore, cares about it quite as much either.

And then there is the prose of Joan Didion. Hard stuff much of the time. Sentences that don’t hesitate for a second in laying the matter, whatever the matter be, bare. Exposing the shit for the shit that it is. Ruthless sentences. But oh, there is a payoff. An unexpected beauty, even. A tenderness that comes out of old hardhearted Joan in the last instance.

In the end, she is a lover. At the terminus of her excoriating prose, being a person always comes down to love.

more here.