Let Me Tell You What I Mean (Paperback)

Let Me Tell You What I Mean (Paperback)

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A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR • NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER  From one of our most iconic and influential writers, the award-winning author of The Year of Magical Thinking: a timeless collection of mostly early pieces that reveal what would become Joan Didion's subjects, including the press, politics, California robber barons, women, and her own self-doubt.

With a forward by Hilton Als, these twelve pieces from 1968 to 2000, never before gathered together, offer an illuminating glimpse into the mind and process of a legendary figure. They showcase Joan Didion's incisive reporting, her empathetic gaze, and her role as "an articulate witness to the most stubborn and intractable truths of our time" (The New York Times Book Review).

Here, Didion touches on topics ranging from newspapers ("the problem is not so much whether one trusts the news as to whether one finds it"), to the fantasy of San Simeon, to not getting into Stanford. In "Why I Write," Didion ponders the act of writing: "I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means." From her admiration for Hemingway's sentences to her acknowledgment that Martha Stewart's story is one "that has historically encouraged women in this country, even as it has threatened men," these essays are acutely and brilliantly observed. Each piece is classic Didion: incisive, bemused, and stunningly prescient.


NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR  • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: NPRVogueUSA Today, Town & Country,  LitHub • A Most Anticipated Book from Vogue, TIMEBustleThe New York Times, and many more.

"Didion’s remarkable, five decades-long career as a journalist, essayist, novelist, and screen writer has earned her a prominent place in the American literary canon, and the twelve early pieces collected here underscore her singularity. Her musings—whether contemplating “pretty” Nancy Reagan living out her “middle-class American woman’s daydream circa 1948” or the power of Ernest Hemingway’s pen—are all unmistakably Didionesque. There will never be another quite like her." —O Magazine

“[These] essays are at once funny and touching, roving and no-nonsense. They are about humiliation and about notions of rightness. About mythmaking, fiction writing, her “failed” intellectualism and the syntactic insides of Hemingway’s craft. . . . From the outset Didion’s nonfiction has shown no obligation to the whopping epiphanic. Realizations occur, but she relates them without splendor, as if she’s extracting a tincture. . . . Reading newly arranged Didion [. . .] feels like reaching that dip in a swimming pool where the shallow end suddenly becomes the deep end. The bottom drops out, and you are forced to kick a little, to tread. This is why we return to her work again and again. But Didion cares less for timelessness than for the evanescence of language, mistrusting pink icing or anything else that might launder truth. Undergirding the entire collection is a regard for ephemerality. Of glory, and of the era when fashion photographers called their spaces “the studio.” Of fairy tales and failed attempts at quietude, of a child’s memory soup of imagination. . . . Didion’s pen is like a periscope onto the creative mind — and, as this collection demonstrates, it always has been. These essays offer a direct line to what’s in the offing.” --Durga Chew-Bose, The New York Times Book Review
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Knopf; 1st Edition (January 26, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 192 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 059331848X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593318485
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 4.81 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches

All copies are new.