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JOAN DIDION QUOTES

The action is everything, more consuming than sex, more immediate than politics; more important always than the acquisition of money, which is never, for the gambler, the true point of the exercise.

JOAN DIDION, The White Album

We tell ourselves stories in order to live.

JOAN DIDION, The White Album

There's a point when you go with what you've got. Or you don't go.

JOAN DIDION, The Paris Review, fall-winter 1978

Grammar is a piano I play by ear, since I seem to have been out of school the year the rules were mentioned. All I know about grammar is its power.

JOAN DIDION, Joan Didion: Essays & Conversations

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.

JOAN DIDION, The Year of Magical Thinking

Writers are always selling somebody out.

JOAN DIDION, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

[Writing is] 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 Paris Review, fall-winter 1978

Was there ever in anyone's life span a point free in time, devoid of memory, a night when choice was any more than the sum of all the choices gone before?

JOAN DIDION, Run, River

I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.

JOAN DIDION, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

The past could be jettisoned ... but seeds got carried.

JOAN DIDION, Where I Was From

A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.

JOAN DIDION, We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order To Live

We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.

JOAN DIDION, The Year of Magical Thinking

I mean maybe I was holding all the aces, but what was the game?

JOAN DIDION, Play It As It Lays

Novels are like paintings, specifically watercolors. Every stroke you put down you have to go with. Of course you can rewrite, but the original strokes are still there in the texture of the thing.

JOAN DIDION, The Paris Review, spring 2006

I know something about dread myself, and appreciate the elaborate systems with which some people fill the void, appreciate all the opiates of the people, whether they are as accessible as alcohol and heroin and promiscuity or as hard to come by as faith in God or History.

JOAN DIDION, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

JOAN DIDION, The Year of Magical Thinking

My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does.

JOAN DIDION, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Time is the school in which we learn.
Time is the fire in which we burn.

JOAN DIDION, The Year of Magical Thinking

I was in love with New York. I do not mean “love” in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again. I remember walking across Sixty-second Street one twilight that first spring, or the second spring, they were all alike for a while. I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out of the West and reached the mirage. I could taste the peach and feel the soft air blowing from a subway grating on my legs and I could smell lilac and garbage and expensive perfume and I knew that it would cost something sooner or later.

JOAN DIDION, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember.

JOAN DIDION, Blue Nights

You have to pick the places you don't walk away from.

JOAN DIDION, Joan Didion: Essays & Conversations

Sometimes I'll be fifty, sixty pages into something and I'll still be calling a character “X.” I don't have a very clear idea of who the characters are until they start talking. Then I start to love them. By the time I finish the book, I love them so much that I want to stay with them. I don't want to leave them ever.

JOAN DIDION, The Paris Review, fall-winter 1978

Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.

JOAN DIDION, The Year of Magical Thinking

California is a place in which a boom mentality and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension; in which the mind is troubled by some buried but ineradicable suspicion that things better work here, because here, beneath the immense bleached sky,is where we run out of continent.

JOAN DIDION, We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order To Live

Innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself.

JOAN DIDION, On Self-Respect

I start a book and I want to make it perfect, want it to turn every color, want it to be the world. Ten pages in, I've already blown it, limited it, made it less, marred it. That's very discouraging. I hate the book at that point. After a while I arrive at an accommodation: Well, it's not the ideal, it's not the perfect object I wanted to make, but maybe—if I go ahead and finish it anyway—I can get it right next time. Maybe I can have another chance.

JOAN DIDION, The Paris Review, fall-winter 1978

Vegas is the most extreme and allegorical of American settlements, bizarre and beautiful in its venality and in its devotion to immediate gratification.

JOAN DIDION, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs.

JOAN DIDION, "On Self-Respect", Slouching Towards Bethlehem

The freeway experience ... is the only secular communion Los Angeles has. Mere driving on the freeway is in no way the same as participating in it. Anyone can "drive" on the freeway, and many people with no vocation for it do, hesitating here and resisting there, losing the rhythm of the lane change, thinking about where they came from and where they are going. Actual participation requires total surrender, a concentration so intense as to seem a kind of narcosis, a rapture-of-the-freeway. The mind goes clean. The rhythm takes over.

JOAN DIDION, The White Album

That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it.

JOAN DIDION, Slouching Towards Bethlehem


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