“Fruitful. . . . [Let Me Tell You What I Mean] offers some familiar pleasures. The earliest columns, from the late sixties, remain crisp and engaging on the page.” ―Nathan Heller
These twelve pieces from 1968 to 2000, never before gathered together, offer an illuminating glimpse into the mind and process of a legendary figure. They showcase Joan Didion's incisive reporting, her empathetic gaze, and her role as "an articulate witness to the most stubborn and intractable truths of our time" (The New York Times Book Review).
Here, Didion touches on topics ranging from newspapers ("the problem is not so much whether one trusts the news as to whether one finds it") to the fantasy of San Simeon to not getting into Stanford. In "Why I Write," Didion ponders the act of writing: "I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means." From her admiration for Hemingway's sentences to her acknowledgment that Martha Stewart's story is one "that has historically encouraged women in this country, even as it has threatened men," these essays are acutely and brilliantly observed. Each piece is classic Didion: incisive, bemused, and stunningly prescient.
“These 12 pieces make an excellent introduction to Didion’s gimlet eye on American life. With a foreword by critic Hilton Als, Let Me Tell You What I Mean includes the essay “Why I Write,” profiles of such disparate figures as Robert Mapplethorpe and Nancy Reagan, and a consideration of Hearst Castle.”
―Bethanne Patrick, The Washington Post
Joan Didion is the author of five novels, ten books of nonfiction, and a play. Her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, won the National Book Award in 2005. She lives in New York.