Posts Tagged ‘Joan Didion’
December 5, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
You have said that writing is a hostile act; I have always wanted to ask you why.
It’s hostile in that you’re trying to make somebody see something the way you see it, trying to impose your idea, your picture. It’s hostile to try to wrench around someone else’s mind that way. Quite often you want to tell somebody your dream, your nightmare. Well, nobody wants to hear about someone else’s dream, good or bad; nobody wants to walk around with it. The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to the dream.
—Joan Didion, the Art of Fiction No. 71
November 5, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
September 23, 2013 | by Maggie Lange
In Lost in Translation, sad-eyed Charlotte spends much of the film curled up on the windowsill high above Tokyo in a sleek Japanese hotel, gazing balefully over the city, acknowledging her loneliness. Played with winsome melancholy by Scarlett Johansson, Charlotte doesn’t verbalize her isolation, but director Sofia Coppola’s gently circumnavigating camera makes it evident. Charlotte plods the halls like baleful Eloise. She quietly considers her loneliness while curled up in hotel sheets, or judging the patrons at the hotel bar, or diving into the beautifully designed hotel pool.
An unlikely literary analog can be found in a passage from D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love. When the protagonist is left by her sister in a hotel room, Gudrun
immediately felt her own existence had become stark and elemental. She went and crouched alone in her bedroom, looking out of the window at the big, flashing stars. In front was the faint shadow of the mountain-knot. That was the pivot. She felt strange and inevitable, as if she were centered upon the pivot of all existence, there was no further reality.
Gudrun, like Charlotte, is hoisted in isolation, in a sort of heavenly limbo.
Lost in Translation, which celebrated its tenth birthday this summer, is the consummate contemporary example of a young woman who finds herself in beautiful accommodations, in a fascinating foreign city, unable to do much but sulk and consider ordering room service. The hotel is, of course, an ideal place for cerebral brooding; hotels are, by their nature, in between. It is where you sleep, but it is not your home. You are a guest without a host, surrounded by scores of strangers hanging up their clothes in the room next door, as close as family.
Is it a certain kind of woman who broods in hotels, who peers out over the vista and ponders her existence? Read More »
August 26, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
July 23, 2013 | by Jessie Kissinger
Upstairs in the Norman Feldheym Library in San Bernardino County, California, there is a quiet room dedicated to local history. The California Room is large with a low ceiling and lavender-gray walls. It contains local history books, genealogy tomes, and metal shelves filed with black binders, each brimming with photocopies of old newspaper articles.
Among the black binders sleeps the story of Lucille Miller, tenderly filed by a squad of dedicated retirees. Her binder is so full that it barely closes. Papers stretch plastic side pockets, and crumpled white spills over the once clean, black edges. Some pages miss beginnings or endings, and often the print is so small and muddled that the words are almost impossible to read. Between the worn state of the photocopies and the old-style font, it is strange to think that these articles once spread through the local press with jittery contagion for almost five months.
Lucille Miller’s story is one of death, a love affair, and a pregnant woman on trial. Joan Didion dubbed it the quintessential “tabloid monument.” Didion was perhaps the first to discover the story, to filter through the newspapers’ fragmentary sensationalism and find the overarching meaning. But in its narrative precision, how perfectly the events align and the characters fit their roles, “Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream” creates a mirror where the tight world of words reflects an unraveled reality. And within this strange symmetry, there’s an awareness of two entities, a woman who lived and a character that served a story.
The tension between these women led me to San Bernardino and the California Room. It led me to green-tinged microfilm of the Sun-Telegram and finally to the Miller binder, probably the most complete paper rendering of Lucille Miller’s life and crime. I’m fascinated by that gray area where we translate a person into words, and I wanted to know what remained of Lucille. She came to represent a forgetful and forward-looking culture, but what happened to the woman and her paper life when the main story passed? Read More »
February 20, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
While we can’t pretend to have actually asked the question, “What if best-selling albums had been books instead?”, we can all agree that the answer, from British designer Christophe Gowans, is brilliant. (We’d suggest The White Album, but, well.)