Joan Didion dies aged 87: here are 11 of the literary icon’s best quotes on life and writing

Writer Joan Didion has died at the age of 87. (Credit: Getty)Writer Joan Didion has died at the age of 87. (Credit: Getty)
Writer Joan Didion has died at the age of 87. (Credit: Getty)

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

The legendary American writer has died at the age of 87 as a result of Parkinson’s Disease

Literary icon Joan Didion has died at the age of 87.

The American writer passed away on 23 December after she had been previously diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

Considered one of the most prolific American authors of her generation, Joan was famed for her journalistic essays on 60s and 70s culture in the US.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Joan was lauded for her award-winning back catalogue including 2005’s autobiographical ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’, which delves into her experience with grief after the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne.

She continued publishing essays until early February 2021, when her last collection ‘Let Me Tell You What I Mean’ hit shelves.

Here are some of the best Joan Didion quotes from her rich career:

1. “Grammar is a piano I play by ear.”

- Joan Didion: Essays & Conversations

2. “I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us. I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead. ”

- The Year of Magical Thinking, 2005

3. “Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.”

- The Year of Magical Thinking, 2005

4. “Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember.”

- Blue Nights, 2011

5. “We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.”

- Slouching Towards Bethlehem, 1968

6. “Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.”

- The Year of Magical Thinking, 2005

7. “As time goes by I think that men who were unable to make choices were more right than those who made them. Because there are no clean choices.”

- Miami, 1987

8. “It is often said that New York is a city for only the very rich and the very poor. It is less often said that New York is also, at least for those of us who came there from somewhere else, a city for only the very young.”

- Slouching Towards Bethlehem, 1968

9. “Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.”

- The Year of Magical Thinking, 2005

10. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

- The White Album, 1979

11. “I am what I am. To look for reasons is beside the point.”

- Play It As It Is, 1970

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our email newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.