When Vanity Fair published a memoriam last summer about their columnist Dominick Dunne, I didn’t pay much attention even when the editor also gave a moving tribute.
But his story came to life in a 2008 Dominick Dunne documentary that I downloaded from iTunes last night that was more interesting that any of the personalities he wrote about. I guess that I overlooked it because I am a recent convert to Vanity Fair (a couple of years) and so didn’t have the long history of all the stories that he had contributed to the magazine and also the successful books that he wrote. He certainly was an example of perseverance, not only in longevity but also in how he successfully overcame many obstacles and changed careers in mid-life.
I won’t rehash the story of his life, but I think it is an object lesson that although he had no formal training as a writer, he obviously had the instinct and the talent not only as an acute observer of the human condition but also the passion to put some personality into his prose. I haven’t read enough of his articles or books to offer a critique of his writing, and I’m not an English professor anyway even though I majored in English literature. I can’t account for his success as luck, but he certainly was in the right place at the right time with the right connections. I think it is more accurate to say that he embodied the aphorism to find a niche and fill it.