As an English major, I’ve read a lot of books. There have been books I thoroughly enjoyed (Infinite Jest or Absalom, Absalom! for example), books I thought were just okay (Animal Farm and Of Mice and Men) and books I really really really really disliked (Huckleberry Finn and The Fault in Our Stars). And although I can wax poetic about David Foster Wallace’s genius or William Faulkner’s complex narrative style, there’s really only one author that I deeply connect with.
Her name is Joan Didion.
It’s difficult to delineate just what Joan Didion means to me. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her books that I’ve picked up, but it’s more than the “that was a great book” feeling. Her essay collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem planted the seed in my head that I could do something with journalism besides hard news, which changed my life. I hope to master the art of writing as well as she has.
If you’re interested in writing that is raw and articulated with the utmost precision, Joan Didion is for you. I don’t want to spoil you, so I won’t post any of my favorite quotes. I recommend starting with the mind-blowing On Keeping A Notebook, the uncanny Goodbye to All That, or the incredible The Year of Magical Thinking.
Today, I donated money to a Kickstarter that will fund a documentary about her life. It has 29 days left to go, and they’re already almost there. I am so excited to receive behind-the-scenes material and a digital copy of the movie.
Are there any authors whose work has made a significant impact in your life? Let’s talk about it in the comments.