Joan Didion with LA Times Book Review editor David Ulin at UCLA's Royce Hall on Saturday, April 29.
The thing that struck me the most about Joan Didion was how small her presence is. Her language has always been so strong, so lean and powerful. She's tall. She was model-thin, model-beautiful in her younger days. In her stories of living in California in the late 1960s, I thought she'd been a center-of-the-whirlwing den mother to the artsy types who fluttered in and out of her home. But seeing her in person I think she was maybe more of the silent one in the corner with the mousy brown hair, the one hoping no one would notice her. The one people forgot -- until her essays started being published and her inner voice thundered out.
Once she started speaking my impression of the mousy, invisible Didion waned -- she's entirely confident and fairly candid -- but I couldn't help reshaping my impression of her.
More notes about what she said will be on LAist.com tonight or tomorrow. Until then, I have to say I was really happy that David Ulin asked about Slouching Towards Bethlehem, returning to the essay "Goodbye to All That" more than once; it's one ofmy all-time favorites.