Catherine Woodman's Reviews > Blue Nights

Blue Nights by Joan Didion
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's review
Jun 12, 2012

really liked it
Read from May 25 to June 12, 2012

This is a book that is not what I have some to expect from Joan Didion, which is sharp, incisive and meticulously honest assessment. New York Magazine said that reading Joan Didion on any subject is like tiptoeing across a just frozen pond filled with beautiful sharks. Exactly. Open this book at your own risk because many of your most sacred assumptions will be challenged.
Not so with this book, which was written after the death of her adopted daughter, Quintana, secondary to the effects of alcoholism. Some critics have called it a grief memoir, others a regret memoir, but I don't see it as either. Through much of the book Didion still seems in awe of her perfect child. She still sees her adolescent precociousness as making her exceptional rather than being a red flag. Didion, who has written so unflinchingly about her own struggles with mental illness, can't shine that unforgiving light onto her daughter, at least not yet. So the book comes across as deeply conflicted.Well written but ultimately disappointing.

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