Denise's Reviews > Blue Nights

Blue Nights by Joan Didion
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Feb 09, 12

Read in February, 2012

So, I spent the last several nights with Joan Didion. I say that because when I read her work (and I've read it all), I'm WITH her, because her writing IS her. It's interesting to me that she is herself a small, spare person, and her writing is spare, too. There is not a single word or space or piece of punctuation that does not need to be there.

I didn't like Blue Nights as much as I loved her previous grief memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, which is a masterpiece. It wasn't easy to read/think about -- this is the one about the loss of her daughter, Quintana, who was the same age as me. But it's more than a book about her daughter. It's about herself aging, it's a look back and forward at the same time.

I'm wondering now (I just finished it last night so it's in my head pretty loud) if it's just easier, on the horribly painful scale, that is, to write beautifully about the death of your husband, than it is to write about the death of your child. Someone I know, who is now 85 years old, lost her husband when she was 55. A couple of years ago, one of her sons passed away, at 55. She said, "you eventually get over losing your spouse, though it takes a long time. You never get over losing your child."

It's worth a read for Didion fans. Don't expect even one ounce of sentimentality.
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