Thursday, June 08, 2006

Book Review: The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

I have always enjoyed Joan Didion’s writing. I find it honest, simple and direct. I didn’t know what to expect from her memoir but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although I have grieved I have never been through a major death like the death of a husband, child or parent. Her memoir is about how she deals with the sudden death of her husband of more than 45(?) years John Gregory Dunne, also an acclaimed author. When he dies their only daughter is in an intensive care unit and spends the next year in and out of the hospital.

"Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends."

These lines are revisited many times throughout the book as she reflects on life, grief, time, and how to bring John back.

About half way through the book I looked up Didion’s daughter Quintana. I learned that she died soon after Didion turned in her final draft of the book. She was asked to revisit the draft and include the death of her daughter, who is a major aspect of the book but says only that, “Its finished.” I listened to a wonderful interview of Didion by Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air and found it equally as moving as her book. If you have ever experienced a major death or grief or know someone who has, this is a great book.

I also recommend Didion's Slouching Toward Bethlehem.

Kim's Grade: A

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