Evan Leach's Reviews > Blue Nights

Blue Nights by Joan Didion
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's review
Apr 17, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: 2010-2019, american-literature, memoir
Read in April, 2012

Blue Nights is a memoir by Joan Didion, written after Didion’s daughter died of cancer at age 39. The book’s main focus is Didion’s relationship with her daughter, but it also addresses the author's own childhood and offers some very frank thoughts on old age and mortality in general.

I thought this book was OK. I picked it up because I’ve heard so many great things about Didion’s last book, The Year of Magical Thinking. That book tackles similar themes, which led me to give this one a try. There are a few very poignant scenes, and one very funny part where Didion unwittingly observes the New York Yankees performing physical therapy. I was impressed with Didion’s writing and I’d be happy to read some of her other work in the future.

However, I had some issues with Blue Nights. The structure of the book is very loose, jumping from Didion’s childhood to her early days as a parent, then to her old age and back again. The narrative sort of wandered at times, threatening to cause my attention to do the same. The book also only goes so deep into the story of the author’s daughter. This is understandable, as it must have been a heartbreaking story for Didion to write, but Blue Nights was so vague at key points that I actually had to go online to figure out why Didion’s daughter was confined to the hospital for so long. The book also tends to focus on very specific individuals and events, and I kind of felt like this book was really meant for Didion’s circle of friends & family rather than the general public, as it seems like some of the book’s stories would have more meaning if one knew the principals involved.

Like I said, I didn’t think this was a bad book. Perhaps if I reread it in 50 years or so, when I’m nearer to Didion’s age, it would hit closer to home and I’d have a different opinion. But as of today, 2.5 stars.
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10/24/2016 marked as: read

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