Didion recalls writing things down as early as age five, though she says she never saw herself as a writer until after her work had been published. She read everything she could get her hands-on, and she even needed written permission from her mother to borrow adult books—biographies especially—from the library at a young age. She identified as a "shy, bookish child" who pushed herself to overcome social anxiety through acting and public speaking. In or early , her family returned to Sacramento, and her father went to Detroit to negotiate defense contracts for World War II.

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There was silence. Something real was happening: this was, as it were, her life. If she could keep that in mind she would be able to play it through, do the right thing, whatever that meant. Joan Didion Whenever Maria called, it was as if the ringing of the phone heralded the end of any conviviality I might have been harboring. I always had the impression when I talked with her that the Fun to Be Around Maria was dying in another room, and all I was left with was the beautiful corpse.

She was beautiful. Even though we had all seen changes to her appearance recently. So beautiful, in fact, she could still get acting jobs without too much trouble. I could see this all ending soon because she was so morose that her mood permeated the whole movie set. She had become so lost, so indifferent to everything. She was a zombie, long before Hollywood became infatuated with them. Her relationship with men was not particularly complicated.

They wanted to sleep with her, and she was rather indifferent as to whether she slept with them or not. It was only after we were entangled that I realized that all of that was only skin deep.

Her hair was still rummaged from my fingers. Her lipstick was smeared from my lips. There was something gone from her. The worms in her head had eaten into the core of her. The flame that had made her a star was nothing, but ashes. But we remained friends.

I worried about her and worried about myself whenever I knew I had to see her. They all were finding it harder to find the woman that first made them want her. Someone so miserable had to be suicidal. It was like a guillotine hanging over all of us, waiting for her to decide when and how.

It was frustrating to see someone who had been given so much not being able to find any way to enjoy the life that many desired. Her unhappiness fueled the fire of my own dejection.

It was too debilitating, too disheartening, and inspired too many ugly thoughts of resentment. I wanted her melancholy to be left to song. Remorse wrapped crumpled newsprint around all my further thoughts.


Play It As It Lays Quotes

A marvel of compression written in spare, expertly honed prose, Play It As It Lays tells the story of minor Hollywood actress Maria Wyeth, in her early 30s, troubled, and the spiritually arid, drug-numbed world through which she moves. Divorced from her movie-director husband, mother of a little girl, Maria, an ex-model from a tiny Nevada town, is recovering from a breakdown as the novel opens. Via a series of taut, impressionistic scenes, the narrative surveys her path to the present, from a Silver Wells, Nevada, girlhood to Hollywood, a life marked, for Maria, by broken relationships, reliance on pills, and empty sex, and spent among play-acting narcissists. Written by an author with intimate knowledge of Hollywood, and one of our keenest observers of cultural emptiness, Play It As It Lays is harrowing, a brilliant, unsparing exploration of self-destructive lives. A terrifying book. Something real was happening: this was, as it were, her life. If she could keep that in mind she would be able to play it through, do the right thing, whatever that meant.


Quotes from Play It as It Lays

Some people ask. I never ask. I know what "nothing" means, and keep on playing. Something real was happening: this was, as it were, her life. If she could keep that in mind she would be able to play it through, do the right thing, whatever that meant. I am working very hard at not thinking about how everything goes.


Joan Didion

Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style. February Snakes[ edit ] Rattlesnakes appear throughout the book, mostly denoting personalized danger and the threat of male predators. In an introductory monologue, Maria wonders why a coral snake needs "two glands of neurotoxic poison to survive, while a king snake , so similarly marked, needs none". Maria tells Carter a story about a man who wanted to talk to God and was later found dead, "bitten by a rattlesnake". In world religions, the snake appears as a Biblical tempter, an agent in ritual suicides, an author of stratagems, and the symbol of fertility in general and male sexuality in particular. In "The Philadelphia Journal", Benjamin Franklin suggested the female rattlesnake as a symbol of America : "The poison of her teeth is the necessary means of digesting her food, and at the same time is certain destruction to her enemies". Hummingbird[ edit ] Maria watches a hummingbird while in the psychiatric ward.


Play It As It Lays


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