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Blue Nights Paperback – 7 Jun 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (7 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007432909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007432905
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘Her prose is a thing of beauty’ Daisy Goodwin, Sunday Times

‘Where the book is most successful – and most poignant – is in the viciously honest picture Didion draws of a lonely, encroaching old age … your heart breaks for her increasing and incurable frailty’ Julie Myerson, Observer

Reviews for ‘A Year of Magical Thinking’:
‘It is the most awesome performance of both participating in, and watching, an event. Even though Didion does not allow herself to break down, only a terribly controlled reader will resist doing the same.’ John Freeman, Independent

‘Ultimately, and unexpectedly for a book about illness and death, this is a wonderfully life affirming book.’ Lisa O’Kelly, Observer

‘Searing, informative and affecting. Don’t leave life without it.’ Financial Times

‘This is a beautiful and devastating book by one of the finest writers we have. Didion has always been a precise, humane and meticulously truthful writer, but on the subject of death she becomes essential.’ Zadie Smith

About the Author

Joan Didion is the author of five novels and seven previous books of nonfiction: among them the great portraits of a decade in essays, ‘Sentimental Journeys’, ‘The White Album’, and ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’. Her previous book, ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ was an international bestseller.


Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover
'And while I'm away
Dust out the demons inside
And it won't be long before you and me run
To the place in our hearts where we hide
I guess that's why they call it the blues'.
Elton John

Joan Didion has given us her best, she has humbled us with her honesty of her inner world. In this second book after the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne in 2003, after which she wrote 'The Year Of Magical Thinking', her daughter, Quintana Roo, died. How could anyone survive this kind of grief? In 'Magical Thinking' she wrote about her grief and how she coped, but now we know that was just the beginning of her grief. She is now in the midst of her grief for the two beloved people in her life, and does grief ever leave, do you move on and do the memories suffice? Joan Didion shares her experiences.

Joan Didion opens the book talking about the Night Blues. She says, " In certain latitudes there comes a span of time approaching and following the summer solstice, some weeks in all, when the twilights turn long and blue." It is a period of time to get through, and in this case with Quintana Roo, when someone dies, don't dwell on it. Joan was thirty-one when she received the call that a baby girl was ready for adoption. She and her husband rushed to see her, and they knew immediately that she was the one. They had at one time been in Mexico when they noted on a map, these words 'Quintana Roo'. A place, and they were determined to name their daughter if they had one, that exact name. Quintana Roo grew up to be a very precocious young thing. Ready to do the unexpected at any time. She became an adult, her other family, the other parents, found her and she had a relationship of sorts with them for a short time.
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By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Joan Didion's slim memoir "Blue Nights" is mostly about the life and death of her daughter Quintana Roo in 2005, at the age of 39. Quintana's death came after a year and a half of failing health and was preceded by the death of Joan's husband and Quintana's father, John Gregory Dunne, in late 2003. Didion wrote a previous memoir, "The Year of Magical Thinking" about Dunne's sudden death.

As a mother myself, I cannot think of anything worse than a child's death. Nothing. So when writing my review of Joan Didion's book about her adoption, raising, and death of her child, I want to be gentle. The truth as I see it is that perhaps Didion and Dunne ought not have adopted a child. Not all people should be parents; it is one of the toughest thing you can do in life and your thoughts and considerations have to naturally be towards the welfare of the child. Didion mentions that modern parents seem to "helicopter" their children, i.e. micro-manage their lives as the grow up and I wonder if she writes that because she and Dunne seemed to do the opposite and Quintana was fit into their lives as writers and celebrities. There is, of course, a happy medium between "helicoptering" and being fairly lax in child-raising, and I think most of us do try to stay to that medium.

Quintana was adopted at birth in 1966 and given the name of "Quintana Roo", after the area of Mexico that Joan and John loved. That name, that ridiculous name, was probably the worst thing that Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne did to their child. She accompanied them as they lived their lives and they loved her. They didn't always seem to understand her; she was a child, after all, and they gave her what they could of themselves.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I so loved The Year of Magical Thinking that I bought this book looking forward to another great memoir. Of course, it is terrible to lose a daughter and I can see that the only way to express grief for Didion is to write about it. But this is not a book worthy of her gifts as a writer. It is short but nonetheless rambles and I felt my eyes glazing over every time she named-dropped. I can only refer to what Vivian Gornick showed so well in her book on writing autobiography (Writing the Self ) - great writers don't always write good memoirs.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was expecting to have my heart rung by this book but it left me cold. The author comes across as self obsessed and name dropping. The daughter whom she is supposed to be mourning is not well depicted even as a shadowy figure.
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Format: Hardcover
For anyone interested in the process of grief, issues of life and death, and the deep truthful exploration of emotional issues close to the heart then this book is for you. She has a great literary style, speaks with dignity and grace in the face of terrible adversity but still finds space for a bit of humour. A really good book to read in a couple of days but you should be prepared for a difficult read.
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Didion triumphs again. This memoir is so wonderfully written and candid. I will share it with friends. Anyone who has had bereavements like Didion will learn from this memoir.
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