$26k for Joan Didion’s outdated books? Why are the wealthy obsessive about lifeless authors’ stuff? | Rachel Connolly - Writing Essays Online



Saturday, November 19, 2022

$26k for Joan Didion’s outdated books? Why are the wealthy obsessive about lifeless authors’ stuff? | Rachel Connolly

Joan Didion is a determine mythologised in near-messianic phrases. Her intelligence, originality, craft, humour, candour and elegance shaped a singular, fascinating essence. That essence is what provides worth to the gadgets auctioned in her property sale this week. The sale, at Stair Galleries in New York, supplied (very rich) members of the general public the chance to purchase her sun shades (a Celine tortoiseshell pair bought for $27,000), clean notebooks ($9,000), a number of typewriters (one bought for $6,000), hurricane lamps (a gaggle bought for simply over $4,000), her writing desk ($60,000), a stack of her favorite books ($26,000) and numerous work.

What every merchandise of the sale supplied most of all, although, was a way of proximity to a beloved however elusive determine, who, regardless of her liberal use of non-public anecdotes and disclosures, all the time maintained a way of distance in her writing. A girl described by her good friend the author Susanna Moore, as “both enchanting and reproachful”.

There has lengthy been a cultural fascination with objects the well-known encompass themselves with. Movie star property gross sales are usually the topic of lurid protection – and who can overlook the histrionic paparazzi tradition of the 2000s, when journalists would scale mansion fences to {photograph} the contents of A-listers’ bins. As a baby I keep in mind studying, with fascination, each journal article I may discover itemizing the ludicrous backstage calls for of well-known musicians (precise numbers of scattered petals, helicoptered-in meals, preparation directions similar to “all pores and skin eliminated” on mangos or hen), as if these lists detailed intimate revelations.

The concept that a well-known individual’s nature will be diminished to their tastes, habits and quirks can flip any banal anecdote right into a seemingly fascinating revelation: Joan Didion never used a decorator. Joan Didion gave me her hand, and he or she was so skinny it felt as if I used to be holding a butterfly. As a teenager Joan Didion typed out chapters from Ernest Hemingway novels to see how they labored. Joan Didion was the master of the author photo. Joan Didion was an eccentric … she did not answer the telephone.

The possessions of a well-known author maintain a specific attract. Good writing stays a mysterious factor: it’s the product of vast studying, observe, expertise and environmental components which are endlessly speculated about (and, once more, mythologised). Profiles of novelists have a tendency to incorporate a passage detailing a childhood spent as an outsider: X moved round loads; Y credit their powers of remark to the 5 years of adolescence they spent mute. Virginia Woolf’s “room of one’s own” has been fetishised in shiny journal options the place famend writers give excursions of their houses.

And writers themselves contribute to this mythos by promoting their fussiness over routines. Hunter S Thompson spent his days doing cocaine, acid and consuming Chivas Regal whisky till midnight, when “Hunter is able to write”. The airport novel doyen Dan Brown claims he rises at 4am every morning, stopping work solely to carry out push-ups on the hour.

Didion was no stranger to such self-mythologising. She tended to painting herself as sombre, meticulous, glamorous, dignified and odd, typically beneath the veil of dry, ironic humour. In Vogue she wrote of being eight years outdated and “making an attempt to enhance the dinner hour by providing what I known as ‘lettuce cocktails’ (a single leaf of iceberg lettuce and crushed ice in a stemmed glass)”, whereas imagining herself as a 24-year-old divorcee, sporting “darkish glasses and avoiding paparazzi” in Argentina.

You may see the fascination with Didion’s possessions, specifically, as nostalgia for an age when writing was extra dignified and glamorous. When Didion died last December, Barry Pierce wrote in Dazed journal that this heralded “the death of the ‘chic’ writer”, the top of an period when writing and glamour had been intertwined. In sure quarters of up to date writing there was a vogue for a marked dowdiness of self-presentation: many current private essay collections and novels have detailed the vagaries of renting in grotty house-shares, working in boring entry-level jobs, or the problem of attracting a boyfriend.

However I’m undecided this thematic grottiness is all encompassing, or a strictly current development. Numerous writing again then was food plan ideas for housewives and husband-netting recommendation for secretaries. If we really feel the previous was a extra dignified period, Didion felt so too. In her essay On Self-Respect, she wrote: “Self-respect is one thing that our grandparents, whether or not or not that they had it, knew all about,” as she laments that the idea of “character” has recently fallen in status. It may be simple to overlook that a part of the rationale we keep in mind Didion shouldn’t be as a result of she was consultant of her occasions, however as a result of she sat barely outdoors them. Whether or not her views look incorrect or proper in hindsight, on feminism say, or the Central Park Five, they had been typically not shared in her milieu. She wasn’t of her period, precisely. She was who she was.

To me the fascination appears tied up with a special trendy phenomenen. I ponder if it isn’t extra concerning the rich wanting to seem cultured and erudite: glamour searching for substance, moderately than the opposite manner round. Who’s spending $27,000 on a set of books which could possibly be purchased for about $60, in any case, however somebody very wealthy? After I examine Didion’s property sale, the very first thing I considered was the celebrity book stylist, a determine rumoured to curate acceptable books for well-known individuals to wield whereas out and about, so they might telegraph an acceptable curiosity in tradition and politics; vapidity and unseriousness are qualities to eschew.

When a lot of what surrounds us feels low cost and fleeting, legacy and substance accrue a poignant, terribly heightened standing. Individuals find yourself spending hundreds of {dollars} on a top quality which was by no means on the market: the factor that makes Joan Didion’s possessions so fascinating, which has nothing a lot to do with materiality in any respect.

Source link

from Essay Writing – My Blog https://ift.tt/ZpU18nV

No comments:

Post a Comment