Let Me Tell You What I Mean

Let Me Tell You What I Mean

by Joan Didion


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Notes From Your Bookseller

A new book by Joan Didion sets our hearts on fire. From politics to culture, Didion sets the bar high for literary nonfiction essays. Hilton Als' generous introduction is worthy of its own anthology. Als states her writing "anticipated the deeply troubling politics of today." This collection captures the best of the most interesting conversations. One moment, you're discussing history, the next a favorite novelist and then, at another point, a personal anecdote. Joan Didion should be first the person on your literary dinner party guest list. If she's busy—then you still have these essays.

*A New York Times Best Seller*
From one of our most iconic and influential writers: 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.
A Most Anticipated Book of 2021 from Vogue, TIMEBustle, The New York Times and many more. 

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593318485
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/26/2021
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 5,372
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

JOAN DIDION is the author of five novels, ten books of nonfiction, and a play. Her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, won the National Book Award in 2005. She lives in New York.

HILTON ALS is the author of The Women and White Girls. He is a staff writer for The New Yorker and teaches at Columbia University.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

December 5, 1934

Place of Birth:

Sacramento, California


B.A., University of California at Berkeley, 1956

Table of Contents

Foreword Hilton Als vii

Alicia and the Underground Press 3

Getting Serenity 10

A Trip to Xanadu 16

On Being Unchosen by the College of One's Choice 23

Pretty Nancy 30

Fathers, Sons, Screaming Eagles 38

Why I Write 45

Telling Stories 58

Some Women 79

The Long-Distance Runner 89

Last Words 99

Everywoman.com 123

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