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The Crack Magazine


Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion

Joan Didion is an American journalist and writer. After winning a competition in 1956, she landed a place at Vogue and went from copywriter to feature editor over just 7 years. From there, she became the critically acclaimed author of 15 books including essays, non-fiction, magazine pieces and novels. Let Me Tell You What I Mean offers twelve previously uncollected essays.

The collection features non-fiction pieces from as early as 1968 to as late as 2000. What’s fascinating about this is the visible shift you can detect in her writing. A pioneer becomes a legend, forward thinking becomes wisdom. It is clear to see that Didion not only reinvented writing in the 20th century, but continues to set the bar high in the 21st, proving that she is simply timeless. Luckily for us, she even provides some writing advice in ‘Why I Write’: “The arrangement of the words matters, and the arrangement you want can be found in the picture of your mind.”

The topics covered prove that Didion can write about anything. ‘Fathers, Sons, Screaming Eagles’ describes the 23rd annual reunion of the 101st Airbourne Association in Vegas, and the characters in attendance. In ‘Telling Stories’, she recalls being out of her depth as a nineteen year old at a writing workshop, as well as the progress of an unsuccessful short story which the Denver Quarterly paid just $50 for. ‘’ is an on-the-nose analysis of Martha Stewart and how she created her empire, as well as how sexist media and obsessive celebrity culture has warped Stewart’s image.

If you haven’t ever read any Didion, this collection is a good place to start. If you have, this is something to get excited about.

Leanna Thomson