Joan Didion

Many of us have had an experience similar to this author’s, Michael Miller’s, trepidation at meeting a favorite author:

The connection seemed, at best, tenuous, but worse was the idea of cold calling Joan Didion, a concept as foreign to me as e-mailing Lord Byron. In one summer after college, after reading her essay “The White Album,” I examined feverishly every word she had written to that point, and considered her body of work to be a high point of the English language in the latter half of the twentieth century. If that statement sounds hyperbolic, it is, of course. But everyone has a literary idol. Outside of the words on the page, these idols are about as real as Beckett’s Godot and interacting with them is at least as hopeless. You see, Didion could not exist. She was much too important, in my mind, to be anything but that direct voice coming off the page; she could be nothing more than omniscience itself….

I grabbed a galley of Blue Nights, a memoir she wrote about the death of her daughter shortly after her husband’s passing. “Will you sign this?” I said sheepishly. I handed her a red pen out of my pocket. She began to sign her signature in big, sweeping movements. Halfway through, the pen gave out and my face turned as red as the ink should have been. The only thing punctuated in that moment was this overdue conclusion: There is really no good way to talk to meet one’s literary idol. But the written words are more than enough.

Two brief clips, to be sure, but you can read the whole at the link above.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


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