From one of America's iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriageand a life, in good times and badthat will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.
Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days laterthe night before New
Year's Evethe Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma.
This powerful book is Didion's attempt to make sense of the "weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness . . . about marriage and children and memory . . . about the shallowness of sanity, about life
The New York Times Book Review, Robert Pinsky
Her book is thrilling . . . a living, sharp, memorable book . . . An exact, candid, and penetrating account of personal terror and bereavement . . . sometimes quite funny because it dares to tell the truth.
Time - Lev Grossman
An act of consummate literary bravery, a writer known for her clarity allowing us to watch her mind as it becomes clouded with grief . . . It also skips backward in time [to] call up a shimmering portrait of her unique marriage . . . To make her grief real, Didion shows us what she has lost.
New York Review of Books - -John Leonard
I can't think of a book we need more than hers . . . I can't imagine dying without this book.
Los Angeles Times - Gideon Lewis-Kraus
Achingly beautiful . . . We have come to admire and love Didion for her preternatural poise, unrivaled eye for absurdity, and Orwellian distaste for cant. It is thus a difficult, moving, and extraordinarily poignant experience to watch her direct such scrutiny inward.
The Washington Post - Jonathan Yardley
The Year of Magical Thinking, though it spares nothing in describing Didion's confusion, grief and derangement, is a work of surpassing clarity and honesty. It may not provide "meaning" to her husband's death or her daughter's illness, but it describes their effects on her with unsparing candor. It was not written as a self-help handbook for the bereaved but as a journey into a place that none of us can fully imagine until we have been there.
The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
In her devastating new book, The Year of Magical Thinking, Ms. Didion writes about the year she spent trying to come to terms with what happened that terrible December...It is an utterly shattering book that gives the reader an indelible portrait of loss and grief and sorrow, all chronicled in minute detail with the author's unwavering, reportorial eye.
In a sense, all of Didion's fiction, with its themes of loss and bereavement, served as preparation for the writing of this memoir, and there is occasionally a curious hint of repetition, despite the immediacy and intimacy of the subject matter. Still, this is an indispensable addition to Didion's body of work and a lyrical, disciplined entry in the annals of mourning literature.
A potent depiction of grief, but also a book lacking the originality and acerbic prose that distinguished Didion's earlier writing.
Booklist - Donna Seaman
Starred Review. Didion describes with compelling precision exactly how grief feels, and how it impairs rational thought and triggers "magical thinking." The result is a remarkably lucid and ennobling anatomy of grief, matched by a penetrating tribute to marriage, motherhood, and love.
Library Journal - Maria Kochis
As always, Didion's writing style is sheer and highly efficient. Strongly recommended for all libraries.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Bridgette Alyce Greathouse Wynn Insightful, essential If you haven't read it, I urge you to get a copy of Joan Didion's magical account of her life and its abrupt change when her husband, writer, John Gregory Dunne, passed away...She chronicles a year and a day, in amazingly wonderful word pictures,... Read More
Rated of 5
by Hilary Heartfelt but very Sad I bought this book when my husband was still alive. I remember telling him that I couldn't quite grasp how a woman could fantasize that her dead husband is going to appear one day. I never made it all the way through. It was almost too much for me... Read More
Rated of 5
by Pega Sprey It helped our family This book was very helpful to my Mother after my Father, her husband of 63 years, passed away, and to both of us when my brother died 11 months later - especially the concept that grief makes you a little crazy. Those reviewers who read it after... Read More
Rated of 5
by L the year of magical thinking by joan didion Honestly, I don't understand how this book is earning so much praise. I hated this book, it reads like a poorly written journal that should have never made it to print, and the random snip-its of info on grief and tragedy seem more like a sad... Read More
Rated of 5
by Donald G. Mashburn Year of Magical Thinking - not magical but well done. I read Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking" shortly after the death of my beloved wife of more than 61 years. Didion's emotional and deftly-written story of her grief following her husband's sudden death from a heart attack... Read More
Rated of 5
by Marjorie "The Year of Magical Thinking" I just finished this book and found it nothing special. I haven't lost a husband but have lost parents and understand the feeling of grief. But Joan Didion didn't say anything new and different here Instead she just dropped names of people and... Read More
Joan Didion was born in Sacramento, California in 1934, and graduated
from the University of California at Berkeley in 1956. She is the author of five
novels and eight books of non-fiction. Her 1968 collection of essays,
Slouching Toward Bethlehem and her book, The White Album (1979), made
her famous as an observer of American politics and culture with a distinctive
style that mixed personal reflection with social analysis. In 2001 she published
Political Fictions which targeted political conservatives with pieces
aimed at Newt Gingrich and the Religious Right. This was a radical shift from
her earlier writing which had ridiculed various aspects of liberalism. She
attributed her shift in opinion to the Republican Party's own shift away from
the values of an earlier generation; specifically the values espoused by Barry
Goldwater, a five-term Senator from Arizona, and the Republican Presidential
candidate in 1964 (losing to Lyndon B Johnson). Goldwater was a founding figure
in the modern USA conservative movement and personified...
From the best-selling author of The Dew Breaker, a major work of nonfiction: a powerfully moving family story that centers around the men closest to Danticat's heart - her father, Mira, and his older brother, Joseph.
When Mark Doty decides to adopt a dog as a companion for his dying partner, he brings home Beau, a golden retriever. A moving and intimate memoir interwoven with profound reflections on our feelings for animals and the lessons they teach us about life, love, and loss.
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