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Like Warhol, “Didion” presents herself as an observer—no, a witness—to unspeakable acts.

In fact, “Death and Disaster,” Warhol’s early-60s series depicting all manner of grisliness—car accidents, riots, suicides—could have been the title of and maybe a better one. The culture had swung counter, and the movies hadn’t swung along with it, not fully. Hairdressers started to be invited to parties.” And even if it wasn’t clear what exactly the New was, it was clear that Didion was part of it.

And doing it for the money seems to be how a writer stays respectable, at least in the eyes of fellow writers.

Says writer Dan Wakefield, a friend of the couple’s from New York, “They didn’t give a shit about the movies except it was a way to make a lot of money.

I don’t like to tell on Chris, but he wasn’t very fond of either of them.

I think he found her clammy.” (Isherwood already told on himself.

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Didion goes on: “I tell you this not as aimless revelation but because I want you to know, as you read me, precisely who I am and where I am and what is on my mind.From the preface: “I went to San Francisco [for the title piece, about the hippie scene in the Haight] because I had not been able to work in some months, had been paralyzed by the conviction that writing was an irrelevant act, that the world as I had understood it no longer existed.” And many of the stories “Didion” tells are real-life horror stories: a suburban housewife who, one night when she was out of milk, set fire to her dumb lug of a husband; High Kindergarten, where children were given LSD; Howard Hughes.And yet the tone of the telling is noticeably, conspicuously not horrified; nor is it distressed, or even emotional; it’s the opposite, is composed, affectless, flat.And I’m not disputing her status as cultural icon either. Who wants to get on the Ángel de la Muerte’s bad side? Because I have one last thing to add, and I don’t care how weird and screw-loose it sounds: I think she wanted me to say it. Critics hadn’t taken much notice; neither had readers.As large as she looms now, she’ll loom larger as time passes—I’d bet money on it. Hurt, likely a little angry too, she was ready for a new scene. Plus, he had a brother in the industry, Dominick—Nick. Was carrying on like it was show business as usual.

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