Title: The Year of Magical Thinking
Author: Joan Didion
Published: 2006 Pages: 227
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Part essay collection, part stream-of-consciousness, The Year of Magical Thinking is Joan Didion's personal accounting of her grief the year after her husband died.
I don't know that I have anything intelligent, witty, or critical to say about this. The palpable grief revealed in these pages left me thinking too long and too hard about how I would deal with my own husband's death. The deep-sinking-sickness in my torso is a small scratch to the horror of the real experience, but it was enough to make reading this book uncomfortable.
I will say, however, that I was impressed by Didion's honesty and her consistency. This is not a self-help book or a "one woman's journey of personal discovery" book; for me at least, this was an honest and heart-wrenching look, not at how one recovers from the death of a spouse, but at how one does not recover. And that feels so much more real to me than the myriad other books out there on the subject that hold on to hope as the central message.
Memorable Scene: When Joan's daughter, Quintana, needs a tracheostomy, Joan refuses. Her mind is convinced that if the operation isn't performed, Quintana will be fine. She can see the illogic but can't feel it: "This was demented, but so was I."
Memorable Quote: Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaningless itself.
Question: How much of a difference do you think it makes if the reader of this book is married or single?
If I've missed yours, let me know!
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