MixedThe Nation... the impression one gets is that of reading a magazine made up of all ledes and kickers ... Her essays show a writer who attempts a close reading of the powerful people and strange circumstances she encounters but then, when understanding proves difficult, draws back to look at them from a great, flat distance ... her sense of control over the material and her certainty of its meaning, as though nothing happens without her permission ... Didion’s sentences have a way of taking a person at face value and seeing the way subtle truths lie under glossy surfaces ... But as the reader continues through the essays in this collection, her writing can also take on the feeling of being alone in someone else’s living room: She is going through their homes in search of a secret ... The questions such a collection of essays demands—for example, why these pieces, and why now?—invite a cynical answer that is then attached, inextricably so, to the thought itself: Because these are the pieces that haven’t been recently collected; because these are the pieces that can be sold either to the completist or to the casual reader. If this book does have a theme, it is one indistinguishable from what many readers already know about Didion: that all of this writing is less about the topic than about how Didion feels about it ... Reading Didion’s latest collection is enough to convince anyone that her writing is often more evocative than empathetic, more interested in style than in meaning.
MixedThe New YorkerIf So Sad Today attempts to preserve the essence of the Twitter account, it also adheres to the more straightforward conventions of memoir. Where @SoSadToday was the device of a universal sad girl, the book conveys the experiences of a single struggling woman ... Like her Twitter feed, Broder’s essays often left me with a sharp sense of feminine recognition. I would read her accounts of heartbreak, sexual dissatisfaction, and alienation and think, Same—the solitary reader’s equivalent of a fave or a retweet. But recognition is not the same as deep connection, and Broder’s preëmptively dismissive sense of humor just as often acted as a barrier keeping me out.