These two books you know, [ i ] The Year of Magical Thinking [ /i ] and [ i ] Blue Nights [ /i ] respectively, and they ’ re fine books, certainly quite honest, but I pick up on the whiff of sexism here; the female writer comments on national and world events and Martin Amis bashes her for “ not being a ba mother ” or whatever silly thing he said in his review of [ i ] the White Album [ /i ], but when she mourns her husband and aughter, wellllll we can define her as wife and mother now so we ’ re okay with Joan Didion.
Needless to say, I am not having this shit, and I encourage anyone who ’ s read the two later memoirs and nothing else to get up on their early Didion.But it ’ s the third and second periods I want to focus on here, since [ i ] A Book of Common Prayer [ /i ] strikes me as a ort of transition between them, and like many “ transitional ” works of art, it ’ s compelling but not always smooth.
And yes, I ’ ll freely admit her work doesn ’ t always fit into this model as well as I ’ m proposing, since usually our models are only guidelines anyway ( I ’ d be the second to admit 2001 ’ s [ i ] Political Fictions [ /i ], as well as parts of [ i ] After Henry [ /i ], kind of scuttle my theory), but it ’ s a good way into my review so I ’ m sticking to the model, just so long as you understand that I ’ m not whole worlds of attached to it or nything.
You can probably tell I ’ m still hedging about whether arranging a writer ’ s career into an arc is reductive, yet I see some of the issues of both [ i ] Play It As It Lays [ /i ] and [ i ] Democracy [ /i ] ( her strongest novel out of the three I ’ ve read) here.
So far, it might seem like the ideal setting for this ook is the vision of either Los Angeles or New York City she articulates so well in her early works, but she didn ’ t set it in Los Angeles or New York ity, she set it in the fictional Central American republic of Boca Grande, and these rich people ’ s lives are invaded not by addiction or surprise pregnancies but the political tumult and shadowy CIA operations I mentioned above.