Author: Joe Hefferon

What Joan Didion Foretold About Campaign Socialism and Popularity

“In the understandably general yearning for “change” in the governing of this country, we might pause to reflect on just what is being changed, and by whom, and for whom.” -Joan Didion, Eye on the Prize, September, 1992 I read Joan Didion when I’m feeling less like a writer and more like a sloganeer, lobbing ill-conceived aphorisms at passing ideas like soft tomatoes. I’ve wondered what I’d say if I met her, though I’ve never sought opportunities to do so, which speaks more to my laziness than my desire to engage such a wonderful writer. I wouldn’t make much of a stalker; all that lurking about in bushes seems rather an itchy hobby, but I’d still like to buy her a cup of tea. In a 2007 Jezebel article about Ms. Didion, Jessica Grose wrote, “She’s not messy or weepy or maternal or particularly sympathetic—which is to say, she is not stereotypically “feminine”— and so men can read her without feeling like pussies.” I read that article several years after becoming a fan of Didion’s …

Agnès Bun’s Invincible Summer

Meeting Agence France-Presse photojournalist Agnès Bun is a disarming experience. She looks younger than her age, but her youthful appearance belies an intensity forged in her frequently dangerous and sometimes harrowing line of work. As we talked about her career and her reluctant memoir, There’s No Poetry in a Typhoon (translated from the French by Melanie Ho), she spoke quickly and wasted few words, which made our interview a challenge and a pleasure. What is a reluctant memoir? It’s one written as a result of benevolent pressure from her peers and admirers, who implored her to aggregate a series of blog posts she had written for the AFP website about her experiences in the field. Eventually, she agreed but she hasn’t looked back since. “I wrote most of the chapters in one go,” she says, “and I haven’t reread it since it was published.” She isn’t the type of person to be detained by self-aggrandizement—she seems to be endowed with more humility than egoism. Instead, she reports and moves on. But sometimes her work leaves …