No; she writes as if her subject were the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest.

To a "social code," she answers: "I want to be quite obstinate about insisting that we have no way of knowing -- beyond that fundamental loyalty to the social code -- what is 'right' and what is 'wrong,' what is 'Good' and what 'Evil.' " But to what social code?

No; in fact, her subject is always herself.

Now, unlike the heroines of Didion's fiction, I do not regard memory as an affliction; I remember.

Didion's highly acclaimed style before I move on to her Politics.

Unlike those heroines of Didion's novels, Lucille Maxwell Miller never floated camellias in silver bowls to stave off encroaching madness or corruption -- no such exquisite desperation for her; she found a "reasonable little dressmaker" instead.

Didion's "style" is a bag of tricks.

This, you see, is where the lavender pillows come in: the body of Lucille Maxwell Miller's husband -- burned black -- offends Didion less than the fact that Lucille Maxwell Miller wore hair curlers.

It isn't Didion's sense of morality that has suffered a blow, it's her sense of style.

always there where the barricade was.

If the plague is indeed coming (I ask you again to think of Camus), what is there to do but wait, curtains drawn and migrainous, contemplating -- if we are lucky enough to have them -- our roses?

She is the pawn of the protest movement.

"What is, is." In Play It As It Lays we are told: "Everything was happening exactly the way it was supposed to happen." "I am not much engaged by the problems of what you might call our day, but I am burdened by the particular, the mad person who writes me a letter." Few among us would raise three cheers for the mad person who writes us letters (Didion is not alone in preferring frangipane to obscene phone calls), but, leaving that aside, the point to be made is that -- I don't know how else to explain Didion's appeal -- readers find Didion's fatalism and her fashionably apocalyptic outlook comforting.

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"They [the unfeeling keepers of Maria's daughter, Kate] will misread the facts, invent connections, will extrapolate reasons where none exist, but I told you, that is their business here [in the loony bin]." In A Book of Common Prayer Grace says, "Our notoriously frequent revolutions are made not by the guerrilleros but entirely by people we know.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I'd like to talk a little about Ms.

(One might also mention plumbing.

Lucille Maxwell Miller's real sin -- a truly, as it turned out, mortal one -- was to live in a subdivision house in the San Bernardino Valley and to hope to find "the good life" there, instead of in Brentwood Park or Malibu.

Some of the effects she produces are quite pretty, even momentarily beautiful.

The essence of human dignity resides in that struggle for meaning.

It's hard to fault people for their obsessions, but Didion's proclivity for "aimless revelation" does tell us something: to attach oneself only to the unanalyzable incident (especially when one's subject matter intersects with the political passions of our times) is to prefer to love one's pain; it is to caress and nourish one's pain, to find it of infinitely more value than the pain of "acquaintances [who] read The New York Times and try to tell me the news of the world." "The notion of general devastation had for Maria a certain sedative effect.

Don't.) From Play It As It Lays: "I used to ask questions, and I got the answer: nothing.

"What is, is," Werner Erhard tells his fans.

While I am sure that Didion would deny that she romanticizes insanity (indeed, she reproaches Doris Lessing for celebrating the logic of the madhouse), her revulsion against the struggle for meaning is so overwhelming that, in the world of her fiction, only the cruel, the blindly sentimental, or the mad are functional and/or attempt to interpret data or analyze facts.