This is just our annual reminder…honestly I think I first did this a year ago this week (it’s spring break)…that I don’t like Joan Didion or her writing.
This book is…well it’s something. There’s a story here about a senator’s wife being in the limelight in overly unfair and invasive ways. She shows up in the paper several times a week and despite her attempts to remain closed off to the fame and infame, she is thrust otherwise. It’s a perfectly interesting story, and given how invasive the media is now (but also how little we tend to know about the non-famous spouses of politicians) it’s interesting the set those side by side and think about how if at all anything has changed in the 30 years since this novel was published or the the 40 years since its story.
But then you have Joan Didion thrusting her own voice on the novel and forcing us to look through her eyes. It’s “her” friend who this is happening to, and so she refuses to not insert her voice. And I don’t mean like…oh, I can tell it’s her. But instead she’s literally like “Hey it’s me Joan Didion writing this novel.” That’s a paraphrase, but she styles herself as a Anthony Trollope style narrator, but well, as I often say about writers….don’t force your readers to make comparisons that you come off quite poorly within. It’s not a good look to say you’re styling yourself off of someone way more talented than you.
(Photo by Mary Lloyd Estrin)