The Didion Files — Fifty Years of Friendship with Joan Didion

Sara Davidson
5 min readJan 11, 2024

Let me tell you about The Didion Files, because it came close to never being published.

I met Joan Didion, one of the most admired writers of our time, when I was 27 and she was 35. I was an ambitious reporter in New York, and she was an essayist and novelist in Malibu, whose unique voice had not yet become widely known.

The sound of her sentences — the rhythm, the voice — made me take in a breath. And her observations! They were original, they rang true, and made me want to know her.

From our first meeting there was a connection. We’d both grown up in California, studied English with the same professor at U.C. Berkeley, (seven years apart) loved to laugh, and had gone straight from Berkeley to New York to write for magazines.

I don’t put myself in the same category as Didion, whose prose will be read and studied long into the future. But there are not many people still alive who’ve known her as long as I have, which is why I’ve published this memoir.

I hope you’ll read it and let me know your response. But first, some words about my own trajectory with writing.

I composed my first book at age six, called Billy the Climber,about a little boy whose ambition was to be a climber of trees. At no one’s suggestion, I



Sara Davidson

Sara Davidson is the N.Y. Times best-selling author of Loose Change, The December Project, and The Didion Files, 50 Years of Friendship with Joan Didion