From one of America's iconic writers, a portrait of a marriage and a life -- in good times and bad -- that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child. A stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage -- and a life, in good times ...
From one of America's iconic writers, a portrait of a marriage and a life -- in good times and bad -- that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child. A stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage -- and a life, in good times and bad -- that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child. Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later -- the night before New Year's Eve -- the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma. This powerful book is Didion's 'attempt to make sense of the weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness!about marriage and children and memory!about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself'.
If someone you know has lost someone close and is having trouble sorting out his or her feelings, give him or her this book. It helped me IMMENSELY to get through the first month after my partner of 41 years died.
Nov 10, 2011
A great help
Ms. Didion's book has helped me to deal with the loss of my partner of 53 years who disappeared into thin air on May 7th this year. The shock of reading in print exact thoughts that continue to run through my mind is in a mysterious way liberating. One should not be afraid of investigating all the aspects of grieving. The book does just that.
If anyone needs to process the sadness of such a heartbreakingly unexpected tragedy this book will help.
Thank you Ms. Didion.
Feb 20, 2009
It's All About Death
Heavy with saddness and loss, the author's journey after the death of her husband and terrible sickness of her daughter, has resonance for anyone who has suffered a loss. For me, there were alot of
Aug 13, 2007
Grief and Its Derangements
Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking is a memoir of grief. It recounts the sudden death of her husband John Gregory Dunne, with whom she was married for almost 40 years, and their daughter Quintana's serious illness. The eponymous "magical thinking" refers to the irrationality of grief--Didion refused to sell her husband's shoes, believing that he would return--the habits by which one avoids memory, the lies one tells oneself in order to hope, the movement from grieving to mourning, and the epiphanies of unbelief.
Grief is the most common of derangements, Didion writes, yet Emily Post's antique etiquette book about the bereaved and the grieving rituals seemed truer to the author than the contemporary literature of self-help, most of which she found useless. Didion has always been the most acute seismographer of psychic, emotional, and social tremors, particularly her own anxiety, but here she turns her antennae to the most heartbreaking and universal of conditions. Critic John Leonard wrote that he couldn't imagine dying without having read this book. I agree. An indispensable memoir.
Jun 7, 2007
Year of Magical Thinking
After enduring a very tough 18 months in her life, Didion wrote about her experience with coping, stress and eventual grief. Although slow in some parts, it is incredibly revealing as to the mind process that happens when death of a loved one (in this case, her husband) and subsequent serious family illness (of her daughter) takes her to review her life and experiences with these people.
I found it to be a love story, an intimate look at her personal journey. Writers write when they need to discuss their emotions and Didion did just that and then published it. The sad part is that the book was completed and being readied for publication when her daughter died. I would have liked to know how she coped with this second death and the end of her immediate family unit but Didion chose not to amend the manuscript. I don't know how she managed the book tour while grieving but perhaps it was the same kind of distraction she had with her daughter's illness after her husband's death.
I've read quite a few reviews of this book and although I agree it was a bit indulgent, I found the book to be a fascinating journey through coping and grief. It's not an uplifting or joyful account by any stretch, but I enjoyed the journey.
Publishers Weekly, 2005-12-05 After her husband's fatal heart attack, which came at a time when their daughter Quintana was in intensive care for complications after pneumonia, Didion was labeled "a pretty cool customer" by a social worker because she seemed to be handling these shocks so calmly. Caruso's reading certainly reflects this aspect of Didion's reaction-sometimes her clear, elegant voice seems downright cold, making the listener wish for a little more emotion. The slightly eerie sounds of bells and cello that swell in at occasional breaks in the narration help in this respect, but mostly the audiobook is as straightforward a production as Didion wanted her life to be in that horrible year. Throughout those months, Didion immersed herself in the literature of grief and quotes frequently from poets and writers who helped her come to terms with her pain. Caruso does a good job with these passages, lingering on and highlighting certain phrases that Didion returns to time and again, shifting their meaning slightly as she progresses. Despite trying to write in an almost clinically detached way, Didion's sorrow and anger do break through at times in the book. Unfortunately, Caruso's cool reserve never cracks, so this audio ends up making less of an impact than the National Book Award- winning print edition. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, June 27) (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2005-06-27 Many will greet this taut, clear-eyed memoir of grief as a long-awaited return to the terrain of Didion's venerated, increasingly rare personal essays. The author of Slouching Towards Bethlehem and 11 other works chronicles the year following the death of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, from a massive heart attack on December 30, 2003, while the couple's only daughter, Quintana, lay unconscious in a nearby hospital suffering from pneumonia and septic shock. Dunne and Didion had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years, and Dunne's death propelled Didion into a state she calls "magical thinking." "We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss," she writes. "We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes." Didion's mourning follows a traditional arc-she describes just how precisely it cleaves to the medical descriptions of grief-but her elegant rendition of its stages leads to hard-won insight, particularly into the aftereffects of marriage. "Marriage is not only time: it is also, paradoxically, the denial of time. For forty years I saw myself through John's eyes. I did not age." In a sense, all of Didion's fiction, with its themes of loss and bereavement, served as preparation for the writing of this memoir, and there is occasionally a curious hint of repetition, despite the immediacy and intimacy of the subject matter. Still, this is an indispensable addition to Didion's body of work and a lyrical, disciplined entry in the annals of mourning literature. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. 60,000 first printing; 11-city author tour. (Oct. 19) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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