Kathryn Bashaar's Reviews > Blue Nights

Blue Nights by Joan Didion
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's review
Nov 06, 2011

liked it

At first I thought I didn't like this book much, but you have to read it to the end to get the whole picture. I liked it more once I had finished it. The ending is lovely, and ties together Didion's grief for her daughter and grief at her own aging. Of course, she misses the comfort and care of a daughter as she ages, but also: when she herself is gone, nobody will remain who remembers her daughter's whole life.
The language in this book is beautiful, and I love the details like the red-soled shoes, and the friend with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other (very 60s). But I kept getting annoyed by the name-dropping and name-brand dropping. In a book about grief for a dead child, do I really need to know that the mother wore Lily Pulitzer dresses and the child's layette had come from Saks? I found those name-brand details distracting from the emotion.
Also, I found myself unsatisfied by the randomness of the chapters, how they were not well-oriented in time. Little context was provided. I think I understand why Didion wrote it the way she did. She is trying to share how she feels, not provide a narrative of Quintana's life. There are many things she probably prefers to keep private. But I didn't really feel like I got to know Quintana, and so the book lacked some emotional resonance for me.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 6, 2011 – Shelved
November 6, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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John I'm halfway through, and the constant dropping of name brands has gotten to me as well!

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