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We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live
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Table of Contents

Introduction by John Leonard
Select Bibliography
Chronology

Slouching Towards Bethlehem
The White Album
Salvador
Miami
After Henry
Political Fictions
Where I Was From

Notes to Miami

Acknowledgments

About the Author

JOAN DIDION was born in Sacramento in 1934 and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1956. After graduation, Didion moved to New York and began working for Vogue, which led to her career as a journalist and writer. Didion published her first novel, Run River, in 1963. Didion's other novels include A Book of Common Prayer (1977), Democracy (1984), and The Last Thing He Wanted (1996).

Didion's first volume of essays, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, was published in 1968, and her second, The White Album, was published in 1979. Her nonfiction works include Salvador (1983), Miami (1987), After Henry (1992), Political Fictions (2001), Where I Was From (2003), We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live (2006), Blue Nights (2011), South and West (2017) and Let Me Tell You What I Mean (2021). Her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2005.

In 2005, Didion was awarded the American Academy of Arts & Letters Gold Medal in Criticism and Belles Letters. In 2007, she was awarded the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. A portion of National Book Foundation citation read: "An incisive observer of American politics and culture for more than forty-five years, Didion's distinctive blend of spare, elegant prose and fierce intelligence has earned her books a place in the canon of American literature as well as the admiration of generations of writers and journalists." In 2013, she was awarded a National Medal of Arts and Humanities by President Barack Obama, and the PEN Center USA's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Didion said of her writing: "I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means." She died in December 2021.

Reviews

"[Didion's is] one of the most recognizable-and brilliant-literary styles to emerge in America during the past four decades . . . [She is] a great American writer."
-New York Times Book Review

"One beautiful sentence follows another . . . Didion has remained a clearheaded and original writer all her long life."
-Newsweek

"Her intelligence is as honed as ever . . . Her vision is ice-water clear . . . Didion has captured the mood of America."
-New York Times

"Many of us have tried, and failed, to master [Didion's] gift for the single ordinary deflating word, the word that spins an otherwise flat sentence through five degrees of irony. But her sentences could only be hers."
-Chicago Tribune

"I have been trying forever to figure out why [Didion's] sentences are better than mine or yours . . . Something about [their] cadence. They come at you, if not from ambush, then in gnomic haikus, ice pick laser beams, or waves. Even the space on the page around these sentences is more interesting than it ought to be, as if to square a sandbox for a Sphinx."
-from the Introduction by John Leonard

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