Netflix is making a documentary about American literary icon Joan Didion

Where she was from.
Where she was from.
Image: AP Photo/Kathy Willens
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

American literary icon Joan Didion is coming to cord cutters.

A documentary about the essayist will be released by Netflix October 27, according to IndieWireThe Center Will Not Hold covers 50 years of her writing, and includes interviews between Didion and director Griffin Dunne, who is also Didion’s nephew.

“She says somewhere in the movie how much the landscape of California and her ancestors and the women in her family who came across [the country],” Dunne said in an interview with Vanity Fair in May, “how deeply ingrained that frontier spirit and morality and work ethic and practicality is embedded in her soul.”

Didion is most famous for her essay collections Slouching Toward Bethlehem (1968) and The White Album (1979), which captured the turbulence of American culture in her generation. The title of the documentary is a reference to “The Second Coming,” by W. B. Yeats, which also inspired the name of the 1968 collection.

The documentary includes interviews about interviews: Didion met with Jim Morrison, visited former Charles Manson follower Linda Kasabian in prison, and partied with Janis Joplin.

Didion has had a profound effect on journalism and American readers. Wrote Caitlin Flanagan in 2012: “Women who encountered Joan Didion when they were young received from her a way of being female and being writers that no one else could give them.”

Didion, who is now in her 80s, wrote in 1979 about watching the American news cycle and California in the 1960s, and, also, about losing a grip on living:

I was supposed to have a script, and had mislaid it. I was supposed to hear cues, and no longer did. I was meant to know the plot, but all I knew was what I saw: flash pictures in variable sequence, images with no ‘meaning’ beyond their temporary arrangement, not a movie but a cutting room experience.