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The Unloved, Part 97: Play It as It Lays

Trying to describe what Joan Didion means to me as a writer is tough, I don't know how to do it. Like Hunter Thompson or Lucy Sante it's just one of those things in my DNA. How do you describe that sort of thing?

Well I tried anyway, in looking at the greatest film made from her writing from a director due as ever for rediscovery. I've been a fan of Frank Perry since my dad showed me "Man on a Swing" when I was about 15. This was someone on a whole different wavelength. Later I'd discover he was just one of the more interesting New Hollywood iconoclasts but initially he seemed beam in from another dimension. That Joel Grey performance grinding against Cliff Robertson's man of granite, damn, what a thrilling movie. I would have just bit the bullet and made an Unloved about "Man on a Swing," but Joan Didion didn't write it. 

And today I'm thinking about Didion, as I will for the rest of my days as a writer. She seemed to see the whole world from her home in California, seemed to know everything humans were capable of doing and seeing and believing. I miss her.

Scout Tafoya

Scout Tafoya is a critic and filmmaker who writes for and edits the arts blog Apocalypse Now and directs both feature length and short films.

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