If your fan-mail to Joan Didion has been getting returned-to-sender these past few decades, then you’re in luck: You can now pay $350 on Kickstarter for the privilege of having your two-page letter read to the 79-year-old author herself. The money will go towards a documentary about the writer, co-directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne (Practical Magic; Addicted to Love). Titled We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live after Didion’s most famous quote, the movie will show her reading from her own work and feature interviews with Patti Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Graydon Carter, and others.
The Kickstarter has already made over half its $80,000 goal, but the whole thing feels a little undignified. For $35 you get a handwritten list of her 12 favorite books; for $50 you get a pdf copy of her recipe book (also in her own handwriting); for $2,500, two people will receive a pair of sunglasses from her “personal collection.” (“This is your opportunity to see the world as Joan,” we’re told!). Didion is one of the greatest living writers, but her legacy at times seems at risk of being subsumed by her lifestyle brand—thin, chic, Californian. “They were my aunt and uncle but they were also probably the hippest people on earth,” Griffin Dunne says about Didion and her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, in a video about the project. It’s hard to imagine that Dunne, with all his connections (he’s been producing/directing/acting for over two decades, and his father was the Vanity Fair writer Dominick Dunne) had no other way to get this film made than by hawking his aunt’s fingernail clippings. If you disagree, though, you can still get your own shipment from the Didion reliquary: No one has splurged on the sunglasses yet—I guess the Venn diagram of female freelance writers with complicated feelings about New York and women who can afford to spend $2500 on a pair of sunglasses isn’t that large.