The Current Issue: Joan Didion

Inside the Spring 2022 edition of Alta Journal.

alta cover, spring 2022, joan didion, julian wasser photo
JULIAN WASSER

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Features


sir francis drake
Steve Carroll

Sir Francis Drake’s Date with Destiny

Time may be up for the English explorer, whose 1579 landing forms a pivotal moment in the historical narrative of California—and beyond. By Peter C. Mancall • Illustrations by Steve Carroll


tupac shakur
© Michel Haddi/Contour by Getty Images

Tupac in the Afterlife

Twenty-five years after his murder, Shakur looms larger than ever as new fans connect his lyrics and legacy to Black Lives Matter, social inequity, and poverty. By Santi Elijah Holley • Photos by Christina Gandolfo


bears deluxe by pixelmage
Pixelmage

A Rat-Filled Casino

Drowsy apes and exorbitant prices were just the beginning. NFTs are stealing the spotlight and upending the art world. Their next trick: unlocking the metaverse. By Ajay Orona


a wild boar grazes on a hillside near castro valley, california
Gordon Wiltsie

California Is Hog Wild

The state’s bursting at the seams with invasive pigs, to the dismay of biologists, conservationists, and farmers everywhere. By Denise Hamilton • Photos by Gordon Wiltsie


wallace stegner, mary hallock foote
THOMAS EHRETSMANN

‘The Ways of Fiction Are Devious Indeed’

Finding current relevancy—and outrage—in the accusations of plagiarism that have long haunted a classic of the West: Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose. By Sands Hall • Illustrations by Thomas Ehretsmann


Joan Didion


joan didion
© Julian Wasser

Joan Didion’s Singular Voice

The late writer knew that stories sustain us—until they don’t. By David L. Ulin


joan didion primer
Alta

A JOAN DIDION PRIMER

Seven essential books by the author. By David L. Ulin


didion map
Alta

Joan Didion’s California

Mapping some key spots that informed the author’s oeuvre. By Ava Liversidge and Eleanor Veitch


didion, her husband, john gregory dunne, and their daughter, quintana roo dunne, at their malibu beach house
John Bryson/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Trancas 1975

Childhood Sundays in Malibu—with a literary power couple as hosts—set a young writer on his path. By Karl Taro Greenfeld


doug aitken
GETTY IMAGES

Personal History: Doug Aitken

By Doug Aitken


didion with her nephew, the actor and filmmaker griffin dunne, in her new york apartment, october 2017
© Annie Leibovitz/Trunk Archive

Seven Minutes for Joan

Didion’s nephew, Griffin Dunne, remembers the gift of directing the acclaimed documentary Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. By Griffin Dunne


ane crabtree
GETTY IMAGES

Personal History: Ane Crabtree

By Ane Crabtree


anthony perkins and tuesday weld in play it as it lays
UNIVERSAL PICTURES

The Pervasive Loneliness of Play It As It Lays

The 1972 film, much like the novel on which it is based, connects themes of longing and despair with our need to endure. By Lisa Kennedy


bret easton ellis
GETTY IMAGES

Personal History: Bret Easton Ellis

By Bret Easton Ellis


joan didion, annie leibovitz
© Annie Leibovitz/Trunk Archive

Planting a Tree is Not a Way of Life

Joan Didion’s profound and prescient commencement address to the UC Riverside class of 1975, which was found in the school archives in January. By Joan Didion


janelle brown
GETTY IMAGES

Personal History: Janelle Brown

By Janelle Brown


joan didion illustration, anita kunz
ANITA KUNZ

Joan Didion Explored the Undercurrents of Life with Clear-eyed Honesty

Illustration and text by Anita Kunz


Dispatches


kerjon lee of the los angeles county department of public works examines cloud seeding trees, an automatic high output ground seeding system, at the kinneloa facility in pasadena
ZUMA Press

Make It Rain

Cloud seeding sounds like science fiction, but it may become a useful tool to combat drought and lessen the risk of wildfires. By Joy Lanzendorfer


wild burros roam a residential neighborhood in moreno valley, california, where they graze on front lawns and shrubbery and drink water from sprinklers
Tod Seelie

Thirsty Burros

The herds of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties are caught up in the most western of troubles: the need for water. By Susan Straight • Photos by Tod Seelie


alta picks, contributors, side hustle
Alta

Alta Picks: The Side Hustles of Alta Contributors


syren nagakyrie
John Lok

Trailblazer: Syren Nagakyrie

Trekking toward an equitable outdoors. By Jessica Klein


Culture


foggy hills
David McNew

Poetry: ‘Friendship’

By John Freeman


justin richel interprets philip guston’s flatlands as a metaphor for the painter’s career, which was marked by a search for new modes of expression
© The Estate of Philip Guston, SAN FRANCISCO Museum of mODERN ART

Personal Favorite: The Gift of Freedom in Guston’s Flatlands

By Justin Richel


adornamented hot sauce bottles, teresa flores
© Teresa Flores

Ars Poetica

How I found kinship with poets writing about the culture of my hometown, Fresno.

By Teresa Flores


san francisco in fog
GETTY IMAGES

Poetry: ‘Fog Poem Number 71’

By Tongo Eisen-Martin


a rendering of frank gehry’s proposed multiuse building for the colburn school
GEHRY PARTNERS

Far More Than a Building

Frank Gehry is designing the Colburn School’s new concert hall. When finished, it will provide a much-needed performance space for students and for a burgeoning arts corridor in Downtown Los Angeles. By Joseph Giovannini • Photos by Christina Gandolfo


taro, karen tei yamashita, victor juhasz
Victor Juhasz

Fiction: ‘Taro’

By Karen Tei Yamashita • Illustrations by Victor Juhasz


Books


ayodele nzinga was named the first poet laureate of oakland, california, in june 2021
CAROLYN FONG

She Who Remembers

As a playwright, an activist, and Oakland’s inaugural poet laureate, Ayodele Nzinga boldly forges new narratives from the Black diaspora. By Keenan Norris • Photos by Carolyn Fong


michael connelly, california book club
Dustin Snipes

Chasing Your Heroes

By Michael Connelly

Why You Should Read This: The Dark Hours

By David L. Ulin


maggie nelson, california book club
Dustin Snipes

Nothing Is Funnier Than Unhappiness

By Maggie Nelson

Why You Should Read This: The Argonauts

By David L. Ulin


steph cha, california book club
Dustin Snipes

The Long Con

By Steph Cha

Why You Should Read This: Your House Will Pay

By David L. Ulin


ada limon
Penni Gladstone

Poems of Lived Experience Backlit by Intimacy

Ada Limón’s new collection, The Hurting Kind, brims with sensory richness and shows her to be a lover of many things: animals, people, and love itself. By John Freeman • Photos by Penni Gladstone


In Every Issue


Editor’s Note: The Power to Discomfit

By Blaise Zerega

Altatude


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