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The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
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The Year of Magical Thinking (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Joan Didion

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,113204505 (3.82)253
Member:JudyCroome
Title:The Year of Magical Thinking
Authors:Joan Didion
Info:Harper Perennial (2006), Paperback, 227 pages
Collections:Read, Your library
Rating:***
Tags:memoir, loss, grief, widowhood, death, bereavement

Work details

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005)

  1. 20
    A Widow's Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both are autobiographical accounts of the writer's first year of widowhood.
  2. 00
    Logboek van een onbarmhartig jaar by Connie Palmen (JuliaMaria)
  3. 00
    Nocturne: On The Life And Death Of My Brother by Helen Humphreys (unlucky)
  4. 00
    When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine by Monica Wood (DetailMuse)
    DetailMuse: Both are beautiful explorations of magical thinking during grief -- Didion's in reaction to the death of her husband in older age; Wood's in reaction to the death of her father in childhood.
  5. 00
    Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield (sanddancer)
  6. 00
    The Long Goodbye: A memoir by Meghan O'Rourke (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Although these books certainly have differences, both are beautifully written, and both are about a year of grieving, each in their own way.
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» See also 253 mentions

English (198)  Norwegian (2)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All (202)
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)
Well articulated memoir of a woman (a successful writer) dealing with her daughter's serious illness and her husband's sudden death. Although the author inhabits a world that is not relatable to the average person, her humanity does come through as she deals with grief and emotions that are common to everyone. ( )
  CORobb | Jan 14, 2017 |
Didion is an incredible writer, in my opinion, and her concise prose is always a joy to read. For this book, which is a memoir and a dissertation on grief, the material would have been too morbid and heartbreaking in the hands of a less talented writer. You need to sit with this book, and give it the time it deserves. A deeply insightful, poignant work that I appreciate more with each subsequent reading. ( )
  essjay1 | Jan 11, 2017 |
Devastating memoir about the first year of Didion's life after the death of her husband. I thought the book powerfully portrayed the banal suddenness of death as well as the incredible intimacy that develops in a marriage over time (and can be, sadly, largely invisible until it is taken away). ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
after husbamd John Dunne's sudden death + daughter coma — not as weepy as I thought — okay reflections of grief

Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill. At first they thought it was flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later - the night before New Year's Eve - the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of 40 years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LA airport, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Centre to relieve a massive hematoma.

This powerful book is Didion's 'attempt to make sense of the weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness, about marriage and children and memory, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself'. The result is an exploration of an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage, and a life, in good times and bad.
  christinejoseph | Dec 23, 2016 |
One night, the author and her husband were just sitting down to dinner when John suffered a massive and fatal coronary heart attack. In a second, a partnership of 40 years was over, as was “any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness … about marriage and children and memory.
  CommunityResources | Dec 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)
Essayistic and concise, seeking external points of comparison, trying to set her case in some wider context.
added by KayCliff | editNew York Review of Books, Julian Barnes (Apr 7, 2011)
 
added by melmore | editLondon Review of Books, Michael Wood (pay site) (Jan 5, 2006)
 
The book is, as promised, extraordinary. The Year of Magical Thinking is raw, brutal, compact, precise, immediate, literate, and, given the subject matter, astonishingly readable.
added by melmore | editSlate.com, Peter D. Kramer (Oct 17, 2005)
 
Though the material is literally terrible, the writing is exhilarating and what unfolds resembles an adventure narrative: a forced expedition into those "cliffs of fall" identified by Hopkins.
 
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 may not provide "meaning" to her husband's death or her daughter's illness, but it describes their effects on her with unsparing candor. It was not written as a self-help handbook for the bereaved but as a journey into a place that none of us can fully imagine until we have been there.
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joan Didionprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jonkheer, ChristienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
This book is for John and for Quintana
First words
Life changes fast.
Quotations
I remember thinking that I needed to discuss this with John.
Confronted with sudden disaster we all focus on how unremarkable the circumstances were in which the unthinkable occurred, the clear blue sky from which the plane fell, the routine errand that ended on the shoulder with the car in flames.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Didion's journalistic skills are displayed as never before in this story of a year in her life that began with her daughter in a medically induced coma and her husband unexpectedly dead due to a heart attack.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 140004314X, Hardcover)

From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage–and a life, in good times and bad–that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.

Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later–the night before New Year’s Eve–the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma.

This powerful book is Didion’s attempt to make sense of the “weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness . . . about marriage and children and memory . . . about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:12 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

An autobiographical portrait of the author's efforts to deal with the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, shortly after their daughter Quintana was placed into an induced coma to help her survive complications after pneumonia.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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