Jane Hoppe's Reviews > Blue Nights

Blue Nights by Joan Didion
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Aug 04, 12

Read in July, 2012

In Blue Nights, we come along on Joan Didion’s sad journey of reflections after her daughter’s illness and death. Didion goes through mementos she had saved anticipating joy in future remembering, only to be reminded instead of loss. The mementos not only plunge her into grief spasms, but they also inspire a kind of melancholic wishing she had more fully appreciated the moments generating the mementos. Had she been fully present in those moments with her daughter, might she have asked different questions? Might she have better known her daughter’s emotions and motives and thoughts?

Wondering this in retrospect helps Didion better know herself. Through stories told in Blue Nights, she describes how human fear of abandonment comes in different forms, results from different triggers, gets medicated differently. She sees how her maternal fear of losing her daughter to childhood perils affected her daughter—and how her daughter’s fears frightened her. And Didion expresses her current fears of aging and of frailty.


The memoir’s apt title comes from an expression for long blue-light twilights when shadows lengthen and shutters shut, when possibilities fade and apprehension of approaching darkness creeps in. One certainly feels this when reading this book.
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