Great writing often arises from pain and grief

My March 8, 2022 book culture column for the San Francisco Chronicle:

I’ve long thought much great writing comes out of pain, especially when it comes to memoir. ¶ Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking,” which The Guardian called a “classic of mourning,” is her account of the year following the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, which included caring for her daughter who had been hospitalized for pneumonia, followed by septic shock. “Darkness Visible,” William Styron’s haunting account of his descent into clinical depression, is another piece of brilliant writing informed by pain. Styron himself believed his creativity was fueled by his depression.

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