Book Reviews

Let Me Tell You What I Mean

Didion reminds us that while youth culture and political leaders may change, our underlying drives and delusions seldom do.


Let Me Tell You What I Mean—a new collection of a dozen Joan Didion essays, originally published from 1968 to 2000—reminds readers that while youth culture, political leaders, and modes of media delivery may change, our underlying drives and delusions seldom do.

Reading Didion is especially refreshing at a time when political tribalism and the pressures of social media have brought a canned quality to so much cultural writing. Tackling subjects as diverse as Gamblers Anonymous, the Reagans, and the Martha Stewart empire, Didion never comes across as someone who approaches her subjects with a predetermined angle or who worries about how her opinions and observations will be greeted by some tribunal on wrongthink.

Still, something vital is missing in this anthology. As universal as her writing can be, previous Didion books have reflected particular places and times; one of her strongest gifts is the ability to capture an aspect of a setting without being explicit about it. But this anthology—with its essays spread across years, bound by no unifying theme—doesn't achieve that sort of alchemy. It's a useful and enjoyable overview of Didion's writing, but it doesn't match the experience of her more cohesive collections, such as The White Album or Where I Was From.

NEXT: The Right to an Abortion Isn't Going Away

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’ve had my fill of ENB for the week, so I’m not even going to comment on this one.

    1. JOIN PART TIME JOB FOR USA Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earningsDDS S are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page…..VISIT HERE

    2. LIFE CHANGING OPPORTUNITY BE an Internet HOME-BASED real Earner.I am just VBGFworking on facebook only 3 to 4 hours a Day and earning £47786 a month easily, that is handsome earning to meet my extra expenses and that is really life changing opportunity. Let me give you a little insight into what I do….. Visit Here

  2. I don’t think that I’ve seen a picture of a young Didion before.

    Anyway, it makes sense that someone who started her career by winning an essay contest sponsored by Vogue magazine, would be ENB’s hero. She started her own “career” in a similar manner.

  3. Join now this jobs and start making extra dollars online by follow instruction on the given website.visit here more detail………..USA PART TIME JOB.

  4. Not since the U.S. Army Air Force and the RAF last visited Dresden have two such fearsome bombs exploded at the same time as ABC’s Rebel and Home Economics, and there aren’t even any Nazis around to blame it on…………….MORE DETAIL.

  5. Didion reminds us that while youth culture and political leaders may change, our underlying drives and delusions seldom do……………..MORE DETAIL.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.