Saturday, May 31, 2008

Recent Reading: Didion's 'Magical Thinking'

It's mostly about death, but that doesn't make Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking morbid or depressing. In fact, Didion's long consideration of the sudden death of her husband and the illness and collapse of their daughter is rewarding in a number of ways.

A well-known writer, Didion had a long and productive marriage to John Gregory Dunne, also a writer. Between their individual writing projects, the two worked together on screenplays. They were a successful literary couple looking forward to many more years together.

In 2003, their daughter Quintana suddenly fell seriously ill. Returning home one evening after visiting Quintana in the hospital, Dunne had a fatal heart attack, throwing Didion's life into turmoil.

Here is a wonderful sentence in which Didion explains her purpose:
This is my attempt to make sense of the period that followed, weeks and months that cut loose any fixed idea that I ever had about death, about illness, about probability and luck, about good fortune and bad, about marriage and children and memory, about grief, about the ways in which people do and do not deal with the fact that life ends, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.

Look for your own copy of The Year of Magical Thinking, published in 2005 by Alfred A. Knopf.

1 comment:

Tulsan said...

Sounds worth seeking out.