Joan Didion Reads At Tulane

Joan Didion read from “The Year of Magical Thinking” last night at Tulane University.

One attendee wrote on her Twitter: “Didion wears black tights and camel colored Uggs. Her voice is dry w/o emotion…”

To go to the Tulane Creative Writing blog, click here.

ELIOT KAMENITZ / THE TIMES PICAYUNE Joan Didion at Tulane University's Great Writers series on  Monday, April 6, 2009.

ELIOT KAMENITZ / THE TIMES PICAYUNE Joan Didion at Tulane University's Great Writers series on Monday, April 6, 2009.

This is an excerpt from The Times – Picayune blog about the event:

Novelist, essayist and screenwriter Joan Didion received a standing ovation from a crowd of approximately 700 Monday night at Tulane University after she read from her memoir, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” which won the National Book Award in 2005.

She appeared rather frail behind the microphone, but her voice was strong as she read from the section that described the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and the grief that came after, “the beginning of my year of magical thinking.” She said she was reading from that book “not for any particular reason, but because I haven’t read it for a while.”

Didion’s description of Dunne’s death — the arrival of the paramedics, the trip to the hospital, the return home — was unsparing and detailed.

“It made me weep,” writer and audience member Chris Wiltz said, “because it made me think of the incredible amount of courage it took to write the book and the incredible amount of courage it took to stand up there and read it.”

After the reading, there was a brief question-and-answer period. Didion explained to one questioner that the reason she had included the death of her daughter in the musical [theatrical] adaptation of the book, but not the book itself, was because the book already was completed and in the publisher’s warehouse. When she said the book was “done,” she said, “I wasn’t making a delphic statement. It was printed.”

Asked about the declining rates of reading, she replied, “I’m not convinced that people aren’t reading as much. I know that book sales are down, but book sales have been down for a while.”

Writers could take heart from her false starts: “I wrote a poem once, and it was turned down by The Nation,” she said. “I got a letter saying they had turned it down, and they were right.”

Then there was her humorous description of a project that came to naught, a book about Kobe Bryant, “which was not a natural for me,” she said.

When a questioner asked how Didion would rewrite a 1969 essay, “As You Read Me,” Didion said, “I don’t know. I haven’t changed all that much.”

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  1. […] the reading itself, I won’t say much.  The writer at joandidion.info (here) mentions seeing a Twitter from an attendee who described Didion’s “camel colored […]

  2. […] WRC. Hoffman’s book is the latest in THNOC’s series on Louisiana artists. Earlier in the week, Joan Didion read from The Year of Magical Thinking at Tulane, and last week I drove back to town from Florida […]



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