Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Joan Didion’s Packing List

BUY THE LISTS OF NOTE BOOK


In her 1979 book, The White Album, American author Joan Didion reveals and explains the packing list she used when working full-time as a reporter:
“This is a list which was taped inside my closet door in Hollywood during those years when I was reporting more or less steadily. The list enabled me to pack, without thinking, for any piece I was likely to do. Notice the deliberate anonymity of costume: in a skirt, a leotard, and stockings, I could pass on either side of the culture. Notice the mohair throw for trunk-line flights (i.e. no blankets) and for the motel room in which the air conditioning could not be turned off. Notice the bourbon for the same motel room. Notice the typewriter for the airport, coming home: the idea was to turn in the Hertz car, check in, find an empty bench, and start typing the day’s notes.

It should be clear that this was a list made by someone who prized control, yearned after momentum, someone determined to play her role as if she had the script, heard her cues, knew the narrative. There is on this list one significant omission, one article I needed and never had: a watch. I needed a watch not during the day, when I could turn on the car radio or ask someone, but at night, in the motel. Quite often I would ask the desk for the time every half hour or so, until finally, embarrassed to ask again, I would call Los Angeles and ask my husband. In other words I had skirts, jerseys, leotards, pullover sweater, shoes, stockings, bra, nightgown, robe, slippers, cigarettes, bourbon, shampoo, toothbrush and paste, Basis soap, razor, deodorant, aspirin, prescriptions, Tampax, face cream, powder, baby oil, mohair throw, typewriter, legal pads, pens, files and a house key, but I didn’t know what time it was. This may be a parable, either of my life as a reporter during the period or of the period itself.”
The list read as follows.

(Source: The White Album; Image: Joan Didion by David Shankbone.)
TO PACK AND WEAR:

2 skirts
2 jerseys or leotards
1 pullover sweater
2 pair shoes
stockings
bra
nightgown, robe slippers
cigarettes
bourbon
bag with:
   shampoo
   toothbrush and paste
   Basis soap
   razor
   deodorant
   aspirin
   prescriptions
   Tampax
   face cream
   powder
   baby oil

TO CARRY:

mohair throw
typewriter
2 legal pads and pens
files
house key

BOOK!

BUY THE LISTS OF NOTE BOOK


Hello!

The Lists of Note book is out today and can now be found in shops across the UK. I'm VERY excited. A few things:

1. The special edition can still be purchased via Unbound.

2. Waterstones have chosen it as their 'Non-Fiction Book of the Month' across the land. Hooray!

3. An extract of the book was published by the Telegraph the other day.

4. A lovely piece was written in the Independent, inspired by the book and our fascination with lists in general.

5. More info about the book and its stockists can be found here.

6. Photos of the book can be found here. Feel free to use them as you see fit.

That's all. I really hope you enjoy it.

Thanks!
Shaun

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

A Profane Abomination

BUY THE LISTS OF NOTE BOOK


In July of 1977, Swiss artist H. R. Giger received an unexpected call from Dan O'Bannon, a Hollywood screenwriter who was very keen for Giger to help bring his latest screenplay, Alien, to life by way of some concept art. Days later, O'Bannon explained further in a letter that contained this list of things to be designed—a temple, the egg, the Facehugger, the Chestburster, and the "terrifically dangerous" Alien itself. As we now know, Giger took the commission on and became a vital member of the crew. Three years later, he and his team won an Academy Award for Best Achievement for Visual Effects for their incredible work.

(Source: Giger's Alien; Image: Giger at work, via.)

ALIEN

LIST OF ELEMENTS TO BE DESIGNED

EXTERIOR, ANCIENT TEMPLE.  Approximately 20 meters tall. Should suggest an ancient, primitive and cruel culture.

INTERIOR, TEMPLE.  This is where the Spore Pods are stored. This room is entered through a vertical tunnel in the roof (the normal entrance has long since collapsed). The Spore Pods can be seen ranked around the altar in the center of the room.

SPORE PODS.  These are leathery, egg-shaped objects about one meter tall, which contain the larva of the Alien. They have a small "lid" on top which can pop off when a victim approaches.

THE ALIEN, FIRST PHASE.  This is a small, possibly octopoidal creature which waits inside the Spore Pod for a victim to approach. When someone touches the Spore Pod, the lid flies off, and the small Alien (First Phase) leaps out and attaches itself to the face of the victim.

THE ALIEN, SECOND PHASE.  Once the Alien (First Phase) has attached itself to the face of a victim, it lays eggs in the victim's stomach, and the egg grows into the Alien (Second Phase). This is a small creature which bites its way out of the victim's body.

THE ALIEN, THIRD (MATURE) PHASE.  Having left its victim, the Alien promptly grows to man-size, whereupon it is terrifically dangerous. It is very mobile, strong, and capable of tearing a man to pieces. It feeds on human flesh. This creature should be a profane abomination. Our producers have suggested that something resembling an over-sized, deformed baby might be suffieciently loathsome. In any event, we wish you to feel free to create your own design.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Lists of Note Book

BUY THE LISTS OF NOTE BOOK
Dear All,

With your help, Lists of Note is soon to become a book—something I've been itching to bring to life for almost as long as I can remember, and something I've been busy researching and writing for many months. Just as the Letters of Note book is filled with interesting letters, Lists of Note will boast a fascinating array of lists created by a wide selection of people, reproduced in facsimile where possible.

The book will be beautiful and crafted by Here Design, the same talented bunch who worked their magic on Letters of Note, and it will be another satisfyingly hefty object boasting the same dimensions as its predecessor. It will contain 125 lists written through the centuries, from as early as the 26th Century BC, to as recent as a few years ago. While many will be written by everyday folk, there will hopefully be lists written by such people as:
  1. Albert Einstein
  2. Gandhi
  3. Debbie Harry
  4. Marilyn Monroe
  5. Anne Frank
  6. Nick Cave
  7. Galileo
  8. Harry Houdini
  9. Susan Sontag 
  10. Isaac Newton
  11. Leonardo da Vinci
  12. Julia Child
  13. Thomas Edison
  14. Sid Vicious
  15. Martin Luther King
...to name but 15. There will be to-do lists of the good, the bad and the ugly; centuries-old shopping lists penned by history's greatest minds; lists of rules and advice for all manner of situations; lists of predictions, some accurate, others not so; an eye-opening list of slaves; charming lists of New Year's resolutions; unique dictionaries; lists of murder suspects, and much, much more. It will be a list-based feast and I cannot wait to see it made.

As with Letters of Note, the book will be crowdfunded with the help of Unbound, a group of people who are more passionate about books than I thought possible and without whom Letters of Note would not have materialised quite so well. Head on over to the Unbound website to learn more about the process, watch me attempting to sell the concept on camera (I'm so sorry), and hopefully pledge. There are different rewards available depending on the level at which you decide to pledge, from a signed copy of the limited special edition through to tickets to the launch party, lunch with me (again, I apologise in advance), and a deluxe slipcase edition of the book (the deluxe edition of Letters of Note was a sight to behold).

Should the project reach its funding target, this gorgeous book will be published and land on your doorstep at the end of 2014—that's this year—WITHOUT FAIL. Producing Letters of Note was a steep learning curve; we now have a solid team in place and are light years ahead of our old selves. I really hope you feel excited enough to give your support; without it, the poor book will remain, unpublished, in my head.

If you have any questions, please get in touch by email via shaun@lettersofnote.com or on Twitter.

Thank you!

Shaun