Thursday, January 21, 2010

Polished withholding

Bob Thompson on his life interviewing writers for the Washington Post (thanks to Ian C.-B. for the link):
Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, also a writer, had drilled into her the need for a “billboard” — a short passage, early in your story, that tells readers what it will be about. So when the time came, she typed one in. It mentions marriage, children, illness, memory, and disorienting grief, and it includes the best description I’ve seen of Didion’s pre-Magical Thinking literary persona. “As a writer, even as a child,” she writes, “I developed a sense that meaning itself was resident in the rhythms of words and sentences and paragraphs, a technique for withholding whatever it was I thought or believed behind an increasingly impenetrable polish.”

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