Review: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

magical thinkingI don’t know what has taken me so long to write this review. Usually I want to document my feelings on a book as soon as the words of the last sentence have finished echoing in my brain. But this one, I finished over the weekend, and perhaps it’s because I’ve injured my right hand (cat bite; don’t ask) and have had limited mobility and thus, diminished typing skills, that I haven’t been as eager to take to my blog with my thoughts.

But it’s also because I’m just not sure how to write about this book.

This is my first time reading Joan Didion although her name is certainly legen – wait for it – dary. (Sorry, I just started watching “How I Met Your Mother” on Netflix due to not being about to do much else with just one functioning hand.) And probably, this was not the appropriate piece of her work to begin with, as it is an autobiographical piece dealing with the death of her husband, John Dunne, who passed of a massive heart attack in 2003. Her account of the year following his death travels back and forth between memory and current grief. It is heart wrenching at times, and at other times beautiful and a true testament to strong marriages, soul mates, and someone who just makes you feel complete.

Certainly her writing is masterful, calling to mind famous quotes on death, on grief. And her writing brings her down to a human level – she kept his shoes! Because she believed that he might come back. The denial that someone is truly gone – it’s a very real feeling that many have experienced with the loss of a loved one, especially if the loss was unexpected.

Reading about death and grief isn’t exactly my idea of a fun Saturday afternoon read, but I sped through this book, simply because Didion’s writing is so compelling. I didn’t mind the morose topic. It may be something I come back to when I experience a deep loss of my own (hopefully not anytime soon). And I will definitely be adding more of her work to my must-read list. Maybe even some of her late husband’s work, as well.

P.S. This was on my challenge list for the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge.

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