The White Album by Joan Didion

Reading a borrowed book, one in which I am unable to mark or write, means that my memory of it is then compromised. Before opening this book, I would have sworn to you that I had never read any Didion, but somewhere in the middle of the book, about the point I was getting a little frustrated with Ms. Didion’s strangely strident tone and her obvious privilege (which, in the 70s, would not have been perceived as such, and so why am I even mentioning it?), I had a semi-distinct memory of having read her story about Jim Morrison lowering a lit match to his vinyl-clad crotch. I would like to be able to say, here, that that image is somehow emblematic of my reading of this book, but it is not. This book is not sex and death. This book is stubborn perseverance in the face of the grinding, albeit privileged quotidian. There isn’t much particularly sexy about that. And but then there’s the cover image. I had the book with me at my place of work one day, and one of my co-workers saw the cover and said, “Wow, that is an incredibly sexy woman who looks as though she’s been through some kind of harrowing psychic experience and come through strangely both stronger and more fragile.” I asked him if he was familiar with Didion. He said no. So I read him her psych evaluation from the title essay. Didion_TheWhiteAlbum