Magazine May 3, 2021, Issue

Joan Didion’s Credo

Joan Didion (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
Let Me Tell You What I Mean, by Joan Didion (Knopf, 192 pp., $23)

In the early 1960s, when she was learning her craft by turning out promotional and merchandising copy for Vogue (“not unlike training for the Rockettes”), Joan Didion wrote a number of pieces for National Review. That might surprise those who have read her skewering portraits of the Reagans and other conservatives in The New York Review of Books, but as a young woman Didion was an “ardent” Barry Goldwater supporter with an abiding faith in the myths of rugged American individualism. That came with the territory in the staunchly Republican and relatively genteel surroundings of Sacramento, where she was born

This article appears as “Why She Wrote” in the May 3, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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Paul Baumann — Mr. Baumann was the editor of Commonweal from 2003 to 2018. He is now the magazine’s senior writer.

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