Geoff Wyss's Reviews > The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
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Jun 09, 11

Read in June, 2011

A very disappointing experience. It wasn't long before I was thinking not "This is what it's like to suffer the loss of a spouse" as "This is what it's like for rich, privileged people to suffer the loss of a spouse." In fact, Didion spends very little serious energy attempting to describe the state of her heart and mind during the year after her husband's death--an attempt that would make the book generalizeable and give the reader something to learn--instead filling the book with dates and hospital names and names of hotels and names of friends who own jets, all with the unconscious assumption that her life will be so interesting to us that these personal details will have any meaning to us. They don't.

In addition, the writing--and I feel grumpy for saying this, given the content--simply isn't very good. Frequently, her sentences are just plain unclear. She doesn't care to make pronouns and verb tenses intelligible. The bigger, more pervasive problem is the repetitive, obvious, Brautigan-esque prose style, which gives the reader almost no credit for intelligence.

It's a book written by someone who is used to thinking that everything she eats, says, writes, and does is interesting.

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