||[Jul. 25th, 2005|02:52 pm]
The American Caliban
Joan Didion is taken to task here.
When she isn't telling us all about her childhood in the California white-shoe aristocracy or orating about the extreme importance of the events of the 1960s as experienced by privileged college kids, Joan takes time out to give moral instruction to the lesser classes. She's Gore Vidal without the humor, or Lewis Lapham without his pithy talent for the short sweet essay. She writes with a heavy didactic tone and a dramatic sweep; the heroic novelist/journalist is always on the scene of tremendous events with her trenchant and outraged prose. Her typical gesture is to detail some nasty business in politics that's very well-known and then draw herself up to her full height and say "What everyone seems to have forgotten, and only I can testify to, is..."
For the last ten years, since she moved away from California, she's been writing about California from New York. When she's not re-telling the stories about wearing hats and gloves to the California Club in 1950, and how that world has gone the way of the Raj, she occasionally notices that there are a lot of Asian people here now and that we're short of water.
The latest set of tablets to come down from her mountain addressed the Terry Schiavo case, and Joan got the science, the politics, the morality, and several of the facts completely wrong. I'm glad someone took the time to detail her failures, because so many people seem to swallow everything she writes.
The baby boomers won't all be dead until I'm at least sixty. I can't wait.