The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
To call Joan Didion cold or even heartless - true as it may be in the light of The Year of Magical Thinking, this monument to the analytical dissection of grief - is itself a cold and heartless condemnation. We all grieve in our own way. This is hers.
After losing numerous family members suddenly and too soon, Didion then lost her husband and daughter within the span of a year. This book is her cathartic contemplation of that loss.
Heartrending, yes occasionally. Heartwarming, no never. Didion's demeanor is all too cerebral. It is as if she has educated herself above emotion. Certainly it can be said that some educate themselves beyond their own well-being. In this case, we see a mind so removed from the everyday reality of man as to answer "a motherless child" instead of "a nut" when asked to fill in the blank for "Sometimes you feel like ____." The result, when pushed to produce a book about grieving for loved ones, is an academic's deconstruction. No, it is not without feeling, she is still human after all, but stoicism is her strongest suit.
Beyond the almost biting cynicism you get beautiful language, great observations and insights to, let's call it, a different kind of emotion.
I assume, and sincerely hope, she never reads reviews like this. She shouldn't care what snarky assholes think of her work, not this work and not after the experiences she went through that brought it about. One who suffers so many visits from Death should not give two shits or even one single flying fuck what the rest of the world thinks.
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