Joan Didion

Easton Press Joan Didion books

A Book of Common Prayer - signed modern classic - 2002

Franklin Library Joan Didion books

A Book of Common Prayer - signed limited edition - 1981
The Last Thing He Wanted - signed first edition - 1996


Author Joan Didion

Joan Didion, born on December 5, 1934, in Sacramento, California, was an iconic American writer whose distinctive voice and keen observations made her a literary luminary. Her work encompassed essays, novels, and screenplays, and she became renowned for her incisive exploration of contemporary American culture and society. Raised in a family with roots in the Sacramento Valley, Didion developed a deep connection to California, which often served as the backdrop for her writing. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, she began her career in the 1950s as a copywriter for Vogue magazine in New York City. This experience not only exposed her to the world of publishing but also marked the beginning of her journey as a writer.

In the 1960s, Didion emerged as a prominent figure in the literary scene with her essay collections. Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968) and The White Album (1979) are considered seminal works that encapsulate the cultural upheavals and shifts in the American landscape during that era. Her writing style, characterized by a sharp and introspective prose, captured the disillusionment and disorientation of the time. Didion's novels, including Play It As It Lays (1970) and A Book of Common Prayer (1977), further demonstrated her ability to dissect the human psyche and explore the complexities of relationships. Her work often delved into themes of alienation, loss, and the search for identity in the face of a rapidly changing world. In addition to her literary achievements, Didion collaborated with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, on several screenplays, including The Panic in Needle Park (1971) and A Star Is Born (1976). The couple's partnership extended beyond their professional lives, as they navigated the challenges of parenthood and the tragic loss of their daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne.

Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne were not credited for the screenplay of the 1976 version of A Star Is Born. The screenplay for the 1976 version, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, was primarily written by Frank Pierson. Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne were credited with writing the screenplay adaptation.

Joan Didion's impact on literature was recognized with numerous awards, including the National Book Award for Nonfiction for The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), a poignant memoir reflecting on grief and loss after the death of her husband. Her distinctive voice and insightful commentary on the American experience solidified her status as one of the most influential writers of her generation. Joan Didion passed away on December 23, 2021, leaving behind a profound legacy that continues to resonate with readers and writers alike. Her body of work remains a testament to her ability to capture the complexities of the human condition with a rare blend of intellect, empathy, and unflinching honesty.


A Book of Common Prayer

Writing with the telegraphic swiftness and microscopic sensitivity that have made her one of our most distinguished journalists, Joan Didion creates a shimmering novel of innocence and evil.A Book of Common Prayer is the story of two American women in the derelict Central American nation of Boca Grande. Grace Strasser-Mendana controls much of the country's wealth and knows virtually all of its secrets; Charlotte Douglas knows far too little. "Immaculate of history, innocent of politics," she has come to Boca Grande vaguely and vainly hoping to be reunited with her fugitive daughter. As imagined by Didion, her fate is at once utterly particular and fearfully emblematic of an age of conscienceless authority and unfathomable violence.

The Last Thing He Wanted

An intricate, fast-paced novel about trying to create a context for democracy and getting hands a little dirty in the process, complete with conspiracies, arms dealing, and assassinations. From the author of The Year of Magical Thinking and Let Me Tell You What I Mean
The narrator introduces Elena McMahon, estranged from a life of celebrity fundraisers and from her powerful West Coast husband, Wynn Janklow, whom she has left, taking Catherine, her daughter, to become a reporter for The Washington Post . She finds herself boarding a plane for Florida to see her father. She becomes embroiled in her his business even though "she had trained herself since childhood not to have any interest in what he was doing." It is from this moment that she is caught up in something much larger than she could have imagined.
Didion makes connections among Dallas, Iran-Contra, and Castro, and points out how "spectral companies with high-concept names tended to interlock." As this book builds to its terrifying finish, we see the underpinnings of a dark historical underbelly.

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