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This review is from: The Year of Magical Thinking (Hardcover)
From the moment one picks up this poignant memoir one passes into a world slightly softer, slightly muted, and slightly off track from the every day. The very tone of Didion's prose conveys the muffled sensibility she must have been experiencing the entire first year after her beloved husband's sudden death from cardiac failure. It's a magnificent work, done with stellar craftsmanship. Didion manages to explore her grief, and the people and events surrounding it, via methods that are neither whiny nor self-indulgent, but which border on the fantastic and which are ultimately instructive. John surely is beaming at her from his current dimension.
Her introspection is extremely clinical in its self appraisal and criticism. She acknowledges madness, horror, confusion, and every other emotion on the roller-coaster of acute grief. Like many of us, when she experiences a gap in understanding she turns to books, the ultimate givers of wisdom. When these betray her by failing to illuminate, she turns to logic and, finally, to observation.
This Buddhist like observation is mesmerizing. Readers cannot help but relate their own life experiences to Didion's struggle to make sense out of the insensibility of death, and be comforted.
Every physical detail of this book is strategic, and I loved discovering each of these tangible tributes. From the dust cover, lettered in black and blue (red and gold in the UK), with the blue spelling out `John', to the back cover photo with John and Quintana regarding the photographer while Joan focuses her gaze on them, to the author photo on the back flap, depicting a pale elegant woman clearly changed by harsh events, the entire effort is beautifully complete.
I inhaled this book in two settings, and will likely read it again and again, if only to get a sense of companionship and sisterhood through life's travails. There is a reason this book won the National Book Award, and is the talk of every salon. It will endure the ages.