Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Writers Are Always Selling Somebody Out

Oops, my main man the Elder beat me to talking about Joan Didion. But here it goes anyway ...

Andrew Sullivan takes his shots, my favorite is: "She won't explicitly state what she thinks - a style of hers that seems far more appropriate when observing pop culture than foreign policy." But perhaps Sullivan needs to brush up on his Didion 101 ... lessee ... Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The White Album, Salvador, Miami, After Henry, and Political Fictions. Six books of great nonfiction, in which you will find a mixture of personal and cultural essays, new journalism, and political reporting. Not much about comic books or television or the Beatles. Oh, an essay about John Wayne - there's the popular culture; got it Andrew!

My other favorite shot is Sullivan's "Perhaps this is a function of being in a liberal intellectual cocoon." Hello? Didion has written about being a Goldwater conservative in her youth. She has most recently described herself as a libertarian. Her essay "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" should be adored by conservatives for the way it addresses the drug-induced malaise of the sixties. In the book by the same name, you'll find her dry-wit mocking of a feel-good celebrity-attended California think tank. The White Album has pieces that take on the feminist movement and student revolutionaries.

Joan Didion is one of our finest living essayists, and not a shabby novelist at that, either. (Check out Play It As It Lays.) She has commented brilliantly on our country, its culture, and its people for over forty years. Her new essay tackles a frequent subject of hers lately: the cynicism of politicians of all stripes. Portraying her as just some elitist liberal snob isn't the real picture. Memo to Andrew Sullivan - get to the library and do your homework, dude.

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