Erin's Reviews > Blue Nights

Blue Nights by Joan Didion
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's review
Jul 06, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: biography-memoir, nonfiction, book-club

I adore Joan Didion's writing, so I was predisposed to liking this beautifully written, spare follow up to the phenomenal The Year of Magical Thinking. This book doesn't quite achieve the heights of YEAR, but Didion's examination of various aspects of loss is excellent. The focus of many reviews is that this book is about the death of Didion's daughter Quintana, and though that aspect is prevalent throughout the parts I found most affecting were her musings on aging and the many ways in which our bodies fail us (perhaps my response goes to the fact that I don't have children, but I am starting to see the effects of time on my body and mind).

Around the time of publication I read several articles which noted that Didion does not discuss the fact that her daughter's illness was likely brought on by her acute alcoholism, and some writers suggested that she might be in denial about that fact. From what I know of Didion, I find it difficult to believe that she would deny it, and, in fact, she references Quintana's drinking, though briefly. However, this book is not Quintana's biography, but rather an examination of Didion's attempt to come to terms with her death and with life after her. Focus on the specific causes would have been beside the point, I think.

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