'An act of consummate literary bravery, a writer known for her clarity allowing us to watch her mind as it becomes clouded with grief.'
Winner of the 2006 BookBrowse Ruby Award for Most Popular 2005 Book by Category.
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 itself."
Winner: National Book Award 2005.
Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
The question of self-pity.
Those were the first words I wrote after it happened. The computer dating on the Microsoft Word file ("Notes on change.doc") reads "May 20, 2004, 11:11 p.m.," but that would have been a case of my opening the file and reflexively pressing save when I closed it. I had made no changes to that file in May. I had made no changes to that file since I wrote the words, in January 2004, a day or two or three after the fact.
For a long time I wrote nothing else.
Life changes in the instant.
The ordinary instant.
At some point, in the interest of remembering what seemed most striking about what had happened, I considered adding those words, "the ordinary instant." I saw immediately that there would be no need to add the word "ordinary," because there would be no forgetting it: the word never left my ...
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 ...
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