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The Year of Magical Thinking (2005)

by Joan Didion

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,159285674 (3.85)390
Biography & Autobiography. Self-Improvement. Nonfiction. HTML:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ? NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER ? From one of America??s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion that 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 it
… (more)

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    A Widow's Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both are autobiographical accounts of the writer's first year of widowhood.
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    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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    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.
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» See also 390 mentions

English (271)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (2)  Norwegian (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (281)
Showing 1-5 of 271 (next | show all)
I was given this book by someone who loved it. It is a memoir of the year following the author’s husband’s death and while her only child is seriously ill. I had been unfamiliar with the famous author prior to reading the book.
The book was well-written, and it was touching to see the author try to cope with her devastating loss. But it was not for me, and I found myself skimming over certain sections. ( )
  AnnieKMD | Sep 25, 2023 |
Easily the best work I’ve ever read by Didion. Some of her quirks are there to delight or frustrate familiar readers, but unlike much of her writing—this isn’t a detached, vapid, all action-off-page kind of work. This work clearly, often beautifully, shows how the mind operates in times of grief, morning, and loss. The writer’s clear explanation and detailed mental processing can certainly help any reader. I wasn’t a big fan of her only-style, emptiness aesthetic, but this has to be her masterpiece and it is an important contribution to this field. ( )
  ProfH | Sep 6, 2023 |
Joan Didion's personal story of dealing with grief helped me define some of my own. ( )
  schoenbc70 | Sep 2, 2023 |
A touching story of life, death, love and companionship. ( )
  AmandaPelon | Aug 26, 2023 |
My first book by this author and I found her story to be gut-wrenching. It seemed like she was in the room telling me about her pain. So well written, incredibly emotional and such raw feelings on the pages. The retelling of the loss of her husband was such a personal account. I hope it gave her some peace after writing it. ( )
  tinkerbellkk | Aug 17, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 271 (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 (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joan Didionprimary authorall editionscalculated
Caruso, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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Biography & Autobiography. Self-Improvement. Nonfiction. HTML:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ? NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER ? From one of America??s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion that 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 it

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Book description
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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