Ultimately Joan Didion’s crime—artistic and personal—is the one of which all of us will eventually be convicted: she got old. Her writing got old, her perspective got old, her bag of tricks didn’t work anymore. Where was the Didion who was a Goldwater girl and a Nixon voter, the Republican at Berkeley, the woman who didn’t care at all about the prevailing literary and political fashions, who went to the supermarket in an old bikini and boarded first-class compartments of international flights in bare feet, and who therefore—because she thought about things always on her own terms—could see things in front of us that we’d been missing all along? How could someone that original turn into another tired espouser of the most doctrinaire New York Review of Books political opinions? How could the woman who crafted sentences so original they made us fall in love with her have turned out decades of prose about which Katie Roiphe can rightly say, ‘Her words are clichés—her sentences and her rhythms and her tics are clichés because we know them so well’? It’s because she got old.