Joan Colby's Reviews > The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
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's review
Jan 10, 2012

it was amazing
Read from January 11 to 15, 2012

In this book, Didion focuses on the death of her husband John Gregory Dunne from a massive heart attack (over and over she repeats the phase “one minute you are having dinner, the next he is gone.”) and the life-threatening cascade of illnesses that attack her daughter Quintana Roo (and as we know now, eventually kill her). Didion brings her formidable powers of observation to dissect the nature of grief, in particular how the mind rejects the reality of loss. Others see her as a “cool customer” but actually, she is in denial, going over the details of John’s death as if one discovery might bring him back. She zeros in on the truth of how the loss of one’s life partner is more searing than the loss of a parent, for which one is more or less prepared. Didion may have been more affected than most as she and Dunne worked as a team, both being writers; while they were involved in separate projects, they shared a workplace in their domicile and were together almost all the time. Didion’s book is important in showing how grief distorts the mind (something even the ancients knew) and how our modern culture with its distancing from death rejects the mourner, pressing him or her to “get on with life.” As we will all die and many of us will first suffer the loss of a loved one, Didion’s story contains important lessons.

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message 1: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Much as I like Didion, I've shied away from this one. Afraid it'll cut too close to the bone.

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