I dropped by 192 Books, my neighborhood bookstore, to find something to read in between endless rewritings of my book draft, and I came away with We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order To Live, the Everyman's Library of Joan Didion's nonfiction work. The book contains, as no one needs to be told, some of the finest modern prose in the English language, and I'm relieved to put into storage those ratty, chewed-up, used-bookstore paperbacks in which I've read Didion's masterpieces in the past. (I'll save them for the country house that I will purchase when The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century is chosen for Oprah's Book Club and becomes a surprise runaway bestseller, Oprah having kept secret until now her passion for Xenakis.) The surprise for me was to come across "God's Country," which Didion published in the New York Review of Books in October 2000. I didn't read it at the time. It is a sustained analysis of the phrase "compassionate conservatism," and it is a chilling prophecy of things to come. Didion's writing brings to mind something Schoenberg once said to Oscar Levant: "I can see through walls."