It’s kind of shocking that no one has made a documentary about Joan Didion. That is, until now. The project, titled We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live, was announced Wednesday morning on Vogue, a magazine for which Didion used to write — and the literary corner of the Internet erupted. It's no surprise: Her essays and novels are beloved, and imitated at one point or another by most lit majors (I’m guilty a few times over, in fact). Didion's effect has lasted years after she first wrote these essays, and that's because she is impossibly cool and intellectually fearless.
Didion's nephew, filmmaker Griffin Dunne, began a Kickstarter campaign to get started on the documentary “with Joan, using Joan’s words" in collaboration with documentarian Susanne Rostock. We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live takes its title from the first line of Didion’s best known essay “The White Album,” in which she recounts the strange atmosphere of Los Angeles at the end of the 1960s, interweaving her own emotional turbulence with huge cultural moments. (For example, the Manson family murders, which she says brought about the end of the era. The ‘60s effectively ended that night).
Dunne says he wants people to hear his aunt speak in order to appreciate that “a woman so tiny in frame is a lion." Could anything be more accurate? (Don't think about that question. The answer is no.) Go read “On Keeping A Notebook” here right now, one of my favorite pieces, while you wait for the documentary.