We know her story, and some of us, although not all of us, which was to become one of the story’s several equivocal aspects, know her name. She was a twenty-nine-year-old unmarried white woman who worked as an investment banker in the corporate finance department at Salomon Brothers in downtown Manhattan, the energy and natural resources group. She was said by one of the principals in a Texas oil stock offering on which she had collaborated as a member of the Salomon team to have done “top-notch” work. She lived alone in an apartment on East 83rd Street, between York and East End, a sublet cooperative she was thinking about buying. She often worked late and when she got home she would change into jogging clothes and at eight-thirty or nine-thirty in the evening would go running, six or seven miles through Central Park, north on the East Drive, west on the less traveled road connecting the East and West Drives at approximately 102nd Street, and south on the West Drive. The wisdom of this was later questioned by some, by those who were accustomed to thinking of the Park as a place to avoid after dark, and defended by others, the more adroit of whom spoke of the citizen’s absolute right to public access (“That park belongs to us and this time nobody is going to take it from us,” Ronnie Eldridge, at the time a Democratic candidate for the City Council of New York, declared on the op-ed page of The New York Times ), others of whom spoke of “running” as a preemptive right. “Runners have Type A controlled personalities and they don’t like their schedules interrupted,” one runner, a securities trader, told the Times to this point. “When people run is a function of their life style,” another runner said. “I am personally very angry,” a third said, “Because women should have the right to run any time.”
[Didion] stands revealed, in The White Album, as a human being who has managed to gouge another book out of herself, rather than as a writer who gets her living done on the side, or between the lines. The result is a volatile, occasionally brilliant, distinctly female contribution to the new New Journalism , diffident and imperious by turns, intimate yet categorical, self-effacingly listless and at the same time often subtly self-serving. She can still find her own perfect pitch for long stretches, and she has an almost embarrassingly sharp ear and unblinking eye for the Californian inanity. Seemingly obedient, though, to the verdicts of her psychiatric report, Miss Didion writes about everything with the same doom-conscious yet faintly abstract intensity of interest, whether remarking on the dress sense of one of Manson’s henchwomen, or indulging her curious obsession with Californian waterworks in these pieces, Miss Didion’s writing does not "reflect" her moods so much as dramatise them. "How she feels" has become, for the time being, how it is. 
Joan Didion: I meant that in a different way than most people read it. If you are doing a piece about somebody, even if you admire them tremendously and express that in the piece, express that admiration, if they’re not used to being written about — this doesn’t hold true of public figures — but if they’re civilians, they’re not used to seeing themselves through other people’s eyes. So you will always see them from a slightly different angle than they see themselves, and they feel a little betrayed by that.
In 2007, Didion received the National Book Foundation 's annual Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters . From the citation: "An incisive observer of American politics and culture for more than forty-five years, her distinctive blend of spare, elegant prose and fierce intelligence has earned her books a place in the canon of American literature as well as the admiration of generations of writers and journalists."  This same year, Didion also won the Evelyn F. Burkey Award from the Writers Guild of America . 
In 2007, Didion received the National Book Foundation 's annual Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters . From the citation: "An incisive observer of American politics and culture for more than forty-five years, her distinctive blend of spare, elegant prose and fierce intelligence has earned her books a place in the canon of American literature as well as the admiration of generations of writers and journalists."  This same year, Didion also won the Evelyn F. Burkey Award from the Writers Guild of America .