On Doris Lessing

At the age fifteen, Jenny Diski, a “foundling,” went to live with Doris Lessing. For fifty years, the two talked every week. Diski promised Lessing that she would never write about her but now, after Lessing’s death, Diski has begun to recount the story of their relationship.

  1. What To Call Her?

    The question of how to name her relationship with Lessing plagued Diski.

  2. Doris and Me

    Lessing invited Diski into her home, but did she want her there?

The Autumn of Joan Didion

Didion’s genius is that she understands what it is to be a girl on the cusp of womanhood, in that fragile, fleeting, emotional time that she explored in a way no one else ever has. Didion is, depending on the reader’s point of view, either an extraordinarily introspective or an extraordinarily narcissistic writer. As such, she is very much like her readers themselves.

Stories to Live With

Coping with a brother’s suicide.

We tell stories about the dead in order that they may live, if not in body then at least in mind—the minds of those left behind. Although the dead couldn’t care less about these stories—all available evidence suggests the dead don’t care about much—it seems that if we tell them often enough, and listen carefully to the stories of others, our knowledge of the dead can deepen and grow. If we persist in this process, digging and sifting, we had better be prepared for hard truths; like rocks beneath the surface of a plowed field, they show themselves eventually.

I Was Born Inside the Movie of My Life

Extracted from the author’s memoir, Life Itself.

The British satirist Auberon Waugh once wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph asking readers to supply information about his life between birth and the present, explaining that he was writing his memoirs and had no memories from those years. I find myself in the opposite position. I remember everything. All my life I've been visited by unexpected flashes of memory unrelated to anything taking place at the moment. These retrieved moments I consider and replace on the shelf.