In the preface Joan Didion almost describes herself as a deceiving person, and implies that people that she is interviewing occasionally confide in her but she wants to be remembered as a reporter, which often means the person being interviewed is going to be shed in a negative light.Apparently Joan Didion is perpetually selling somebody out. I find this to simply not be the case. Yes, many could argue that she does not reserve judgement in a majority of her essays but there are a few examples which prove this wrong.

If you compare the two essays John Wayne: A Love Song and 7000 Romaine, Los Angeles 38; you can see the stark difference as Didion describes her affection for this former hero, John Wayne and a famous millionaire Howard Hughes. In John Wayne: A Love Song, Didion creates an ora around the hollywood star and illustrates how he is now not the able young man starring in Western movies. In the essay describing John Wayne you can tell that this essay is more of a reflection on herself and how she, amongst others hold Hollywood stars to such a high standard that it is unimaginable that even a famous person could be aging, just as any ‘normal’ person would. On the other hand, Didion does not reserve judgement when it comes to describing Howard Hughes, the reader can clearly see that she is picking what is put in to the essay, and naturally, what she is leaving out.

Didion’s choice in what she is deciding to put into her essays and what she is leaving out is what characterizes her as a creative non fiction writer, in my opinion. When Didion states that “writers are always selling somebody out” I believe that she means for the purpose of interviewing under the genre of Creative Nonfiction, the interviewers intent is to find a distinctive trait about the person that they are interviewing and attempt to portray them with that one distinctive trait in mind, whether it be good or bad. This leaves the writer, in this case Didion, is choosing one trait to continue the story off of this trait and creating more of a plot line, combining elements of nonfiction and fiction.


Personally, I feel that when writing creative nonfiction, it is avoidable to sell someone out during the process of writing. For example, in the excerpt of True Blood that we read, I felt as though Capote did not favor either side. Although I cannot speak for the entirety of the book, if you look at that excerpt, my understanding was that no one was a sold out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *