The Year of Magical Thinking Paperback – Feb 13 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
After her husband's fatal heart attack, which came at a time when their daughter Quintana was in intensive care for complications after pneumonia, Didion was labeled "a pretty cool customer" by a social worker because she seemed to be handling these shocks so calmly. Caruso's reading certainly reflects this aspect of Didion's reaction—sometimes her clear, elegant voice seems downright cold, making the listener wish for a little more emotion. The slightly eerie sounds of bells and cello that swell in at occasional breaks in the narration help in this respect, but mostly the audiobook is as straightforward a production as Didion wanted her life to be in that horrible year. Throughout those months, Didion immersed herself in the literature of grief and quotes frequently from poets and writers who helped her come to terms with her pain. Caruso does a good job with these passages, lingering on and highlighting certain phrases that Didion returns to time and again, shifting their meaning slightly as she progresses. Despite trying to write in an almost clinically detached way, Didion's sorrow and anger do break through at times in the book. Unfortunately, Caruso's cool reserve never cracks, so this audio ends up making less of an impact than the National Book Award– winning print edition.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
*Starred Review* Didion--a master essayist, great American novelist, and astute political observer--uses autobiography as a vehicle for tonic inquiries into both the self and society. In Where I Was From (2003), she meshed family history with an examination of America's romance with the West. Here, in her most personal and generous book to date, she chronicles a year of grief with her signature blend of intellectual rigor and deep feeling. The ordeal began on Christmas 2003 when Didion and her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, learn that their daughter, Quintana Roo, is in intensive care with severe pneumonia and septic shock. Five grim days later, Dunne and Didion come home from the hospital, sit down to dinner, and Dunne suffers "a sudden massive coronary event" and dies. Married for 40 years and sharing a passion for literature, they were inordinately close. But Didion could not give herself over to grief: Quintana's health went from bad to worse as she developed a life-threatening hematoma on her brain. She survived, and Didion had the wherewithal to cope: "In times of trouble, I had been trained since childhood, read, learn, work it up, go the literature. Information was control." So she researches grief, schools herself in her daughter's medical conditions, and monitors the flux of flashbacks and fears that strobe through her mind. 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. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Phillipe Aries' The Hour of Our Death to remind the reader you too. You too believe in the repetition of your daily rituals with your loved ones that you are exempt from the finger of the Reaper. You too, as I did, Didion seems to say, refuse to acknowledge the passing of time, the leaving of life in every day details: the way we hold a fork, our eyes absorbing the exact slant of afternoon light, the sight of our beloved's living breathing face.
Along with this more subtle message, Didion shares a deep insight: grief is not the same as mourning. In her experience grief settled in the shattered moments following the heart attack that took her writing partner, husband and best friend within seconds. That grief, as she reports it, numbed and in a sense preserved her until she might open to the less merciful mourning, in which the daily truth of the loss, its depth and height, its width across her now empty heart expanded.
No one serves language like Didion. Alone in her vast talent now, with Dunne her husband gone, still she shines the way for the rest of us, writers, people, humans who share the only truth: we too will die someday.
Also recommending: Song Of Cy by Katlyn Stewart- I bought the E-Book
Laura's Review (Hers):
I enjoyed this book, as much as a book about grief can be enjoyed. Ms. Didion skillfully articulated her feelings and thoughts after the sudden death of her husband and during her daughter's illness. Having recently lost a brother I was able to connect deeply with many of her thoughts, particularly the magical thinking she describes. It's not often that I read a book and think "oh my gosh, that's EXACTLY how I've felt" but this book did that for me. Ms. Didion helped me be able to articulate my own thoughts at times when I couldn't begin to articulate them myself.
I applaud Ms. Didion's willingness and ability to put herself out in public view in such a raw, vulnerable way. Death of a loved one is, I believe, a deeply personal experience and I can't imagine sharing my innermost vulnerabilities and thought processes with the public. Perhaps doing so was cathartic for Ms. Didion; I don't know. I do know, however, that it takes a great deal of courage to do so.
Some reviewers have criticized the book for its representation of the privileged life Ms. Didion lives. While I agree that there are numerous references to events and experiences that many people will never have, I don't fault her for that. She wrote this book from her own perspective, from her own viewpoint, and as such she presented her life honestly. I respect a person who is not apologetic for having had such opportunities.
I recommend this book. While it is not a happy read, it is evocative and beautifully written.Read more ›
Best-selling American journalist, author and movie-maker Joan Didion has spent decades living and working with her husband, author John Dunne. In a horrifying twist of fate, Joan faces life without John, who one night simply dies at the diningroom table while her daughter Quintana lay in a coma. The Year of Magical Thinking takes us through Didion's grief process as she tries to carry on without John and with Quintana facing several serious health crises. It is a must read for anyone who is facing multiple losses in their lives. I found it enlightening, spiritual and as cozy as a blanket.
Most recent customer reviews
I am a 58 yr old widow. My husband died in 2013. I savoured this book, often re-reading lines and paragraphs because I saw in words what my silent heart was saying. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Janet
I found this difficult to read, as the author very graphically recounts her grief and mourning upon the death of her husband.Published 15 months ago by Mrs. Colleen M. Paul
This book is excellent for someone who is living a bereavement even if the language is a little literary.Published 22 months ago by Amazon Customer
Such a sad story, but it is so well written, almost poetically. It offered a very deep insight on life and aging. A treasure.Published on July 10 2013 by Melanie
I teach a course on death and dying for the University of Regina, Faculty of Social Work. One of my students referred this book for me to review. It is an excellent resource. Read morePublished on June 25 2013 by Jacklin Andrews