Diane Massad, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Diane Massad)
The symbiosis that Joan details but are a guidebook for the woes of contemporary marriage. The agonies of her losses are augmented and assuaged by her strength of word, wit and wisdom.
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some, January 19, 2010 (view all comments by some)
Wonderful book, one of the most personal and touching Didion books I've read in a long time. This is how a great artist processes grief, and I feel we're lucky to be able to read it.
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standalone58, January 10, 2009 (view all comments by standalone58)
If you love someone, be it a human or beloved pet, this book is must read. I have found new meaning in understanding loss and grief. As I look back over my 50 years, I can identify the times I grieved. My hope for the future is that I will allow myself the time to grieve, instead of feeling that I must show the world that I am fine. Thank you Mrs. Didion for writing this book and helping me and so many others to understand the process mourning.
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Megan Willis, September 2, 2007 (view all comments by Megan Willis)
Didion’s portrait of loss is less a heart breaking work of mourning and more an account of Didion’s pragmatic search to understand her grief. One will gain a sense of what immense loss can do the even the most brilliant of human psyches. Didion’s prose is unparalleled in her ability to observe her own lunacy in the weeks and months following her husband’s death. A simple glance at wallpaper can send her into a downward spiral of memories. This work is Didion’s tool to recovery, but also serves as a guide to coping; admitting that normalcy is not an immediate option.
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memoir;death;grief;non-fiction;autobiography;biography;marriage;loss;family;mourning;national book award;fiction;grieving;bereavement;american;illness;literature;writers;love;dying;writing;essays;21st century;didion;widowhood;autobiographical;relationship
Alfred A. Knopf -
Best book of 2005, favorite book of the year...Slice the question any number of ways, but the book published last year that I'm most grateful for having read is The Year of Magical Thinking, a devastating affirmation of love and commitment, hope and despair, life and death.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Many will greet this taut, clear-eyed memoir of grief as a long-awaited return to the terrain of Didion's venerated, increasingly rare personal essays. The author of Slouching Towards Bethlehem and 11 other works chronicles the year following the death of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, from a massive heart attack on December 30, 2003, while the couple's only daughter, Quintana, lay unconscious in a nearby hospital suffering from pneumonia and septic shock. Dunne and Didion had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years, and Dunne's death propelled Didion into a state she calls 'magical thinking.' 'We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss,' she writes. 'We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes.' Didion's mourning follows a traditional arc — she describes just how precisely it cleaves to the medical descriptions of grief — but her elegant rendition of its stages leads to hard-won insight, particularly into the aftereffects of marriage. 'Marriage is not only time: it is also, paradoxically, the denial of time. For forty years I saw myself through John's eyes. I did not age.' In a sense, all of Didion's fiction, with its themes of loss and bereavement, served as preparation for the writing of this memoir, and there is occasionally a curious hint of repetition, despite the immediacy and intimacy of the subject matter. Still, this is an indispensable addition to Didion's body of work and a lyrical, disciplined entry in the annals of mourning literature. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. 60,000 first printing; 11-city author tour. (Oct. 19)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day"
by Anna Godbersen, Esquire,
"Readers of average and above sensitivity will not find The Year of Magical Thinking easy going; melancholy, loneliness and mortality are waiting with the turn of nearly every page. But it is also written in Didion's usual spare, dramatic prose, and it is also a love story, with its telling flashbacks from an unconventional forty year marriage that nonetheless revolved around children, meals, fireplaces and hotels in Honolulu. Didion ultimately offers a fiercely intelligent portrait of grief, at a time when that particular experience is so often treated gingerly, sappily, and then hidden away." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review A Day"
by Rochelle Gurstein, The New Republic,
"Didion's memoir of her year of mourning is largely a story of her growing self-awareness of the futility of attempting to control events that are beyond any mortal's control. Although there are moments when she tries to reckon with her feelings of powerlessness...her constant need to detect, and to expunge, all signs of self-pity...means that even her book's occasional inward moments have an emotionally detached feel." (read the entire New Republic review)
by Booklist (Starred Review),
"[A] master essayist, great American novelist, and astute political observer....[A] remarkably lucid and ennobling anatomy of grief, matched by a penetrating tribute to marriage, motherhood, and love."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"A potent depiction of grief, but also a book lacking the originality and acerbic prose that distinguished Didion's earlier writing."
by Library Journal,
"[T]he predominant atmosphere is one of authentic suspense that makes for a remarkable page-turner. As always, Didion's writing style is sheer and highly efficient."
by Michiko Kakutani, the New York Times,
"[A]n utterly shattering book that gives the reader an indelible portrait of loss and grief and sorrow, all chronicled in minute detail with the author's unwavering, reportorial eye....[P]rovides a haunting portrait of a four-decade-long marriage, an extraordinarily close relationship between two writers."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"[A] spare and searing memoir....[T]he raw feeling [Didion] funnels into her taut sentences has all the more power because it is so tightly rationed. (Grade: A)"
by The New Yorker,
"This book is about getting a grip and getting on; it's also a tribute to an extraordinary marriage."
by Robert Pinsky, The New York Times Book Review,
"Didion's book is thrilling and engaging — sometimes quite funny....Though the material is literally terrible, the writing is exhilarating and what unfolds resembles an adventure narrative."
by Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World,
"The Year of Magical Thinking, though it spares nothing in describing Didion's confusion, grief and derangement, is a work of surpassing clarity and honesty....It is also as close as Didion will be able to come to a final conversation with John Gregory Dunne."
by Seattle Times,
"This is a sad and anguished book, told in some of the plainest, yet most eloquent prose you'll ever encounter. Everyone who has ever lost anyone, or will ever lose anyone, would do well to read it."
by The Boston Globe,
"The book is an exacting self-examination, but it is also a heartbreaking, though far from sentimentalized, love letter, engrossing in its candor."
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