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The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

The Year of Magical Thinking (2005)

by Joan Didion

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,227207494 (3.83)256
  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 256 mentions

English (201)  Norwegian (2)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All (205)
Showing 1-5 of 201 (next | show all)
No review? How did that happen? I'm not a big Didion fan, but this is an incredibly moving account of her husband's sudden death and its effects on her life. Like Orwell's description of being wounded in "Homage to Catalonia", Didion's book length description of the loss of one's spouse and its impact is precise, powerful and sometimes difficult to read. ( )
  nmele | Jun 16, 2017 |
Didion's passionate memoir chronicles the year of her only daughter's long-term hospitalization and her husband's sudden death. With stark writing and stunning honesty, The Year of Magical Thinking captures the profoundness of a lengthy marriage and the crippling grief of its unexpected end. A contemplative collection of prose which uses memories of her husband and daughter with excerpts from their respective writing projects as a vehicle for expressing her loss. Raw and powerful. ( )
  GennaC | May 9, 2017 |
Very beautifully written, and tragic. Didion manages to capture grief in a way I have yet to see done. While dealing with the sudden death of her husband her daughter is also quite ill.
A well done memoir of a period in her life, I do not recommend if you're sad or have had a loss recently. It really tore into me in ways I was not expecting. ( )
  SadieRuin | Apr 8, 2017 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 201 (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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This book is for John and for Quintana
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Life changes fast.
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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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.
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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.

» see all 8 descriptions

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HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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