Joan Didion and the Art of Motherhood

1960s: Days of Rage


“Joan Didion was known for her confident, self-assured statements and the surgical precision with which she observed the world. The one adjective continually invoked of her writerly persona and her work was cool. When she passed recently, one of the conversations that bubbled up about her life and her legacy was her identity as a writer and a mother. Online, some male writers asked if she was proof it was possible to be a great artist and a great parent—to be met with parent writers who quickly pointed out the nonsensicalness of that question. But if we look at Didion’s work itself, we see her contradictions. She is often admired for the clarity and conviction of her writing, but in her work, and how she thought of it, there is the uncertainty and tension between the demands of being a writer and the demands of being a mother. And…

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