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Old 10-20-2019, 10:45 PM   #16
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In case unknown; there is a 2017 Netflix documentary film called Joan Didion: The Center Will not Hold, it is available on Netfix here in NZ so I imagine in most other Netfix countries too. It is 1hr 38min long.

I likely won't watch it (I have a long list of musician ones I never seem to get to and would have priority) but others may find it of interest.
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Old 10-20-2019, 11:40 PM   #17
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In case unknown; there is a 2017 Netflix documentary film called Joan Didion: The Center Will not Hold, it is available on Netfix here in NZ so I imagine in most other Netfix countries too. It is 1hr 38min long.

I likely won't watch it (I have a long list of musician ones I never seem to get to and would have priority) but others may find it of interest.
Thanks for sharing!
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Old 10-25-2019, 09:27 AM   #18
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Well, for me this book was a write-off, at close to the 50% mark I gave it a rest and thought about it for a while and after a few days decided there was much better reading about.
</SNIP>
I find it interesting that one of the publisher's discussion questions for this book is:

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The lifestyle described in this book is quite different from the way most people live, with glamorous friends, expensive homes, and trips to Hawaii, Paris, South America, etc., and yet none of that spared Didion from experiencing profound grief. Did her seemingly privileged life color your feelings about the book at all? Did that change after reading it?
Clearly it put AnotherCat off, but not me. How did everyone else feel about it?
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Old 10-25-2019, 06:04 PM   #19
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Clearly it put AnotherCat off, but not me. How did everyone else feel about it?
No it was nothing at all to do with any privileged life that put me off, in fact I did not really get the impression from the book that she was especially privileged (and, in fact, I have no idea of her financial situation). Many people I know and who are not priviledged have iPhones, use AccuWeather, fly to San Francisco, have been to Paris, etc., in fact I have done most myself (but never owned an iPhone which certainly cramps my style when out and about not being able to name drop having used one, but mentioning multiple visits to Paris will often save the day ).

It was what caused her to write the way she did and then her doing so that caused my disinterest. I found the documentary film I provided the link to while looking for some background (I haven't watched it) - I don't want to go into the details here but the little I found indicated to me that the cause of her style which I found troubling in the book may have been a matter from within herself.

But, as I said before, I don't know her and I have not read anything else of hers. I am just relating my reaction to this particular book.

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Old 10-29-2019, 03:04 PM   #20
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No it was nothing at all to do with any privileged life that put me off, in fact I did not really get the impression from the book that she was especially privileged (and, in fact, I have no idea of her financial situation). Many people I know and who are not priviledged have iPhones, use AccuWeather, fly to San Francisco, have been to Paris, etc., in fact I have done most myself (but never owned an iPhone which certainly cramps my style when out and about not being able to name drop having used one, but mentioning multiple visits to Paris will often save the day ).

It was what caused her to write the way she did and then her doing so that caused my disinterest. I found the documentary film I provided the link to while looking for some background (I haven't watched it) - I don't want to go into the details here but the little I found indicated to me that the cause of her style which I found troubling in the book may have been a matter from within herself.

But, as I said before, I don't know her and I have not read anything else of hers. I am just relating my reaction to this particular book.
Her eldest nephew produced the documentary, so it is a little rose-colored, but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. But I think if you don't like her writing, you won't like any of it.
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Old 10-30-2019, 05:04 PM   #21
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How did everyone else feel about it?
Great question. I didn't mind that. It seems she had led a semi-charmed life until this point, but this kind of tragedy is so intense that it's hard for me not to feel empathy or sympathy. Losing her husband is extremely difficult, but knowing that she loses her husband and only child - her entire family! - within the course of a year or so is devastating.

Didion's name dropping didn't bother me and it makes me wonder whether she was aware she was doing it. Someone recommended I watch a concept comedy series called The Good Place that's been on a few years, which I just began streaming from the beginning last week. It's a silly but philosophical show about a group of people who die and go to "the good place", which turns out to be a fantasy model neighbourhood (there are several such for different groups of people; this is just one). However, the world isn't as perfect as one might expect and for one, some of the people have quirks that get on other people's nerves. There is a woman who came from a rich and famous family, and she constantly name drops who she knew in life. As I was watching, Didion and AnotherCat's criticism of her came to mind immediately.
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Old 10-31-2019, 06:42 PM   #22
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S'pose you'll be rushing off to read her Blue Nights now .

I am just being cheeky there, because I can afford to be as I have just bought Tracy Daugherty's biography The Last Love Song of her as my punishment. I haven't much browsed it yet but an issue may be how penetrating it will be about her make up (no I don't mean the make up she wore in fashion advertisement photo shoot sessions ), usually that has to wait until there is a safe distance between the subject and the analysis. When I will get into it I don't know and it is a fairly weighty 750 odd pages of self flagellation for me.

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Old 11-18-2019, 09:44 PM   #23
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Despite slow progress on The Last love Song as I have other things interrupting at the moment I am quite liking it. Mostly because much of it is fleshed out to be more about interesting contemporary events and other people than about her. Apart from the timeline aspects of her life, I could have guessed the sense of the rest about her from that part of ...Magical Thinking that I managed to read.

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Old 12-18-2019, 06:35 PM   #24
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I finished Daugherty's biography of Joan Didion. The first thing I should mention is that before coming across ...Magical Thinking here I only knew of her name as a novelist (I couldn't name any of her books though). I'm likely not unusual in that respect for those outside of the USA as without it specifically stating so it does come across in the biography that much of her work has been American/Joan Didion/Quintana biased and that her novels never reached any great sales figures. As far as movies are concerned many would know the movie A Star is Born, for example, but very few would know of her involvement in its making.

While this is not meant to be a review of the biography it seemed to me that there was no way to write 7-800 pages about Didion which I felt was useful when assessing my non-American opinion of ...Magical Thinking. It did mean though it covered much interesting to me contemporary information; so there is quite a lot about Dunne's brother Nick, California, even the Beat Poets, etc.; enough to make me want to read it all.

The taste I got from reading ...Magical Thinking was that she seemed to me to possibly be a self absorbed and neurotic type. Daugherty makes no comment himself on such things but quotes from others who knew her or worked with her their thinking her self absorbed or neurotic, stressed, a tendency to cry, etc. Her continual migraines and Dunne quoted (at least twice) saying that their house was like a pharmacy, etc. tend to back these opinions up. As does her relationship with Quintana, etc.

So where did that get me with my discomfort with ...Magical Thinking? In part I think that it helped me understand that perhaps part of it is I just did not want to read what seemed to me to be her self absorbed, neurotic ramblings and repetitions. But coming back to me all the time as I read the biography was the early on claim in it that while she was at university she cried on a train station platform because no one would carry her bags for her. I have a feeling that perhaps part of my discomfort is that perhaps the purpose of ...Magical Thinking (and then Blue Nights?) is that she wants us to carry her bags for her and that is something I was not interested in being part of.

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Old 12-19-2019, 06:02 AM   #25
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The first few chapters are really summing up how truly deranged I feel. Definitely a book for people have leaned on during times of intense loss. Blue Nights is also excellent.
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