Joan Didion is one of my favorite masters of literary style—though not always my favorite when it comes to her attitude or approach. She also has a special status for me as the writer who penned the Great Novel of Sacramento: Run River. No other novelist I know of wrote as evocatively about that city in the Central Valley. More readers are familiar with Didion’s vivid portrayals of LA, Miami and other places, but her first exploration of place may be the richest—a lush, languid mood with an undercurrent of nihilism and violence. I based this sketch off a picture of Didion on the back of one of her early books.