Among the first things I noticed about this piece was its deeply personal and journal-esque nature. Note that I call it journal-esque and not journalistic, because I find this piece to be more reminiscent of an entry in a diary or journal, rather than printed in a major publication like the New York Times. Did anyone else feel this way? For specific hard points, I point to the italicized excerpts scattered throughout the piece ranging from actual journal entries (a-ha!) to poetry. At first glance, they are deeply contextual, and even reading them between Didion's own words, I'm not sure I understand the depth of what she is trying to communicate. Of course, we as readers don't fully understand Didion's cryptic You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends until we're well into the piece and see it's not so metaphorical as we might have initially thought.
I guess the problem I have with following a piece like this is that it's difficult to critically analyze it as a piece of journalism. Can we really look into Didion's investigative methods and techniques and make judgments of them based on what we know or should learn about investigation and reporting? What about the construction? Maybe more so than her reporting technique, but I'm not so sure. This piece is deeply personal and introspective, and I almost feel unqualified and undeserving to tease out some meaning as a study tool rather than a testimonial of emotional trauma... these facts are not ones that were sought. It's not like Didion broke out the legal pad and marked down every detail of every scene since the passing of John at the dinner table. I do pull out of this piece the possible difference between facts gathered consciously versus facts gathered unconsciously. Where the events that Didion witness here are the results of a "natural" perception, as opposed to a conscious collection of details. For instance, the phone call with the family physician in which Didion learns that the EMTs were saying "V-fibrilling" and not just "fibrilling." Somehow I doubt she looked this information up to write an article.
Not to say that I didn't take anything at all out of this piece! Rather, I've just had to read it with a slightly altered perspective.