No; she writes as if her subject were the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest.

her eye: about Boca Grande (the inspiration for which is said to be Panama), Grace, the rich narrator, says: "There is poverty here, but it is obdurately indistinguishable from comfort.

No; in fact, her subject is always herself.

Now, unlike the heroines of Didion's fiction, I do not regard memory as an affliction; I remember.

Didion's highly acclaimed style before I move on to her Politics.

I remember in part because I have no choice, but also in part because (unlike Didion's heroines, whose fate depends less upon memory and volition than upon selective amnesia), I believe that without memory there is no civilization.

Didion's "style" is a bag of tricks.

To complain ("I am so tired of remembering things") of remembering is to express a wish to be dead, to return to some pre-Edenic state in which good and evil, right and wrong, do not exist.

It isn't Didion's sense of morality that has suffered a blow, it's her sense of style.

always there where the barricade was.

I'm the first one to laugh at a good joke; but I don't see that their funny hats give us the right to laugh at their avowed desire to "open our neighborhoods to those of all colors," and I don't find their concern with youth centers and public health clinics corny -- and even if I did, I wouldn't find integrated neighborhoods and youth centers and public health clinics corny.) Didion, who lives somewhere in Ayn Rand country, makesfun (in Run River) of the character who "stood up for the little fellow and for his Human Right to a Place in the Sun"; she makes no apology for the character whom she quite truthfully describes as a "robber land baron." How come, I'd like to know, her art of deflation is never put to use against those in power?

She is the pawn of the protest movement.

When Didion deigns to mention the ruling class, she puts ruling class in quotes -- which ought to tell us something about the woman who voted for Goldwater.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I'd like to talk a little about Ms.

(One might also mention plumbing.

The answer is 'nothing.'" As soon as Maria Wyeth ascertains that the answer is "nothing," she segues to "Damson plums, apricot preserves, Sweet India relish and pickled peaches.

Some of the effects she produces are quite pretty, even momentarily beautiful.

The essence of human dignity resides in that struggle for meaning.

"World without end, Amen" (from the Book of Common Prayer) sounds good -- gorgeous -- too; but it signifies: we know from the context what we are meant to feel and to understand.

Don't.) From Play It As It Lays: "I used to ask questions, and I got the answer: nothing.

"What is, is," Werner Erhard tells his fans.

I had not been elected to Phi Beta Kappa. This failure could scarcely have been more predictable or less ambiguous (I simply did not have the grades), but I was unnerved by it; I had somehow thought myself a kind of academic Raskolnikov, curiously exempt from the cause-effect relationships that hampered others. Although the situation must have had even then the approximate tragic stature of Scott Fitzgerald's failure to become president of the Princeton Triangle Club, the day that I did not make Phi Beta Kappa nevertheless marked the end of something, and innocence may well be the word for it. I lost the conviction that lights would always turn green for me, the pleasant certainty that those rather passive virtues which had won me approval as a child automatically guaranteed me not only Phi Beta Kappa keys but happiness, honour, and the love of a good man (preferably a cross between Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and one of the Murchisons in a proxy fight); lost a certain touching faith in the totem power of good manners, clean hair, and proven competence on the Stanford-Binet scale. To such doubtful amulets had my self-respect been pinned, and I faced myself that day with the nonplussed wonder of someone who has come across a vampire and found no garlands of garlic at hand.