A frail, taciturn and shy woman who hated interviewing people, abhorred the use of telephones and let her husband finish her sentences, Joan Didion, who died December 23 aged 87, made herself illustrious, voluble, durable and stylish on the printed page.
She grew into her true self only when she sat before her typewriter. To the typewriter, she committed her authentic persona, which reached readers through the printed page. And the readers, in turn, loved the person they met on paper.
Didion’s craftwork has been credited with “expanding the landscape of the printed page.” A standout and singular woman among the male crowd of the New Journalism school of thought, such as Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe, she excelled at the art of narrative reporting, infused with a deeply personal stamp in a way that eclipsed others.
She influenced a generation of writers and journalists. Many have confessed to stealing liberally from her and emulating her syntax; others feel continually refreshed by the resonance of her polished sentences in their writing and minds. The depth and breadth of her influence can be gauged from the flood of tributes that have come pouring in from a spectrum of film critics, novelists, essayists, journalists and, also, the fashion world.
Her writing craft — originating when, as a student, she used to copy out passages from Ernest Hemingway — was honed in the editorial offices of Vogue, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books and Life magazines. Her analysis of...
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