Wednesday, August 29, 2007

[Book Review] THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING by Joan Didion


Sarah Frierson reviews THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING by Joan Didion (Knopf, 2005)

Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it

Joan Didion lost her husband of forty years, writer John Gregory Dunne, on December 30, 2003, at a time when her only daughter was in a coma. This book is her raw account of the year that followed. The reader travels through the stages of Didion's grief with her--from the necessary, intense, distracting focus on her daughter's life-threatening condition to the moments filled by incapacitating memories.

But most of all, Didion wants to understand what happened, what could have been corrected. Ultimately, she wants to understand what it will take to reverse time and bring her husband back. In her search for explanation, Didion methodically approaches this new experience as she has any other--she goes to the literature. She uses existing literature, both popular and clinical, to help her rationalize that which is not rational--the death of her partner.

This is not a guide for people experiencing grief. Neither is it a sentimental journey through the lives of these two authors. But it is very poignant account of one woman's journey through loss. And it is a love story. The little things shared by two who are so inseparable, the way their lives are so entwined...these little bits tell the story of two lives before that horrible day.

Sarah Frierson, Business & Sciences Department

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I read the book and I have seen interviews with the author. Sarah's review is a great description--better than the author's presentation!--of what the book is and is not.
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