January 2007: Joan Didion in her New York City apartment.

Inspirational Women: Joan Didion

A must-see on my list for this week is the Netflix documentary: Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold.

Not only a writer of strong clarity, insight and depth, Joan Didion is ageing as gracefully as anyone might, absorbing the tumultuous events of her life and carrying on, as must we all.

If you are interested in reading more about Joan Didion, this short biography from the Academy Of Achievement is a good overview, concluding with a seismic time in her life:

In late 2003, Didion’s daughter, Quintana, fell gravely ill. Shortly after returning from a visit to their comatose child in the hospital, her husband, John Gregory Dunne, suffered a fatal heart attack. Joan Didion wrote a searing account of her journey through grief in The Year of Magical Thinking. At the time she finished the book, her daughter appeared to be recovering from her illness, but by the time the book was published, Quintana had died. The Year of Magical Thinking was published to widespread acclaim and received the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2005. Didion continued to document her heart-wrenching loss in the 2011 memoir Blue Nights, which directly addressed the death of her daughter, among wide-ranging observations on childhood, motherhood, grief, mortality and the aging process.

The film has been made by Griffin and Arabelle Dunne, Joan Didion’s nephew and niece. In the New York Times, Griffin Dunne said:

“I was really conscious of how just through attrition, there was just Joan and I in the room … It’s probably one of the reasons she let me make the movie. I know all those people who are not here, I loved all those people, we share that love.”

“Without being too mystical, I was always aware of my parents, and John, and Quintana, in the editing room,” he added, his chin shaking, fighting back tears. “And I think they would have liked it.”

As I said, a must-see for those of us interested in a very personal perspective of one of the great women writers of our time.

Netflix documentary: Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold.

Film: Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (Julian Wasser/Netflix)
Film: Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold
(Julian Wasser/Netflix)
Joan Didion for Céline, 2015
Joan Didion for Céline, 2015

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