Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.
While I recognize Didion's towering intellect, her facility with language, her admirable curiosity and the scope of her knowledge, I find her writing so icy and distant I'm left unsatisfied. On one hand, her essays about such diverse topics as water supply and James Pike surprise me and catch my interest in unexpected ways, I am thrown by her occasional harshness. What does she have against Doris Lessing and why the contempt for the early women's movement? Her evident respect for Georgia O'Keefe, on the other hand, seems based in the artist's perceived 'hardness'. Perhaps this says more about Didion than O'Keefe.
Didion is the master of structure. No one fashions a better essay, drawing from several different points and then neatly tying up the threads into a moment of insight. And still, most essays left me unmoved. This is the third time I've read the work, in the hopes I might one day appreciate it as others do. I think I've given it enough chances.