[Reading] ➶ The Year of Magical Thinking ➽ Joan Didion – Golanvideoagency.info
An Act Of Consummate Literary Bravery, A Writer Known For Her Clarity Allowing Us To Watch Her Mind As It Becomes Clouded With Grief From One Of America S Iconic Writers, A Stunning Book Of Electric Honesty And Passion Joan Didion 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 ChildSeveral Days Before Christmas , 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 HematomaThis 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 Itself It occurs to me that we allow ourselves to imagine only such messages as we need to surviveJoan Didion, The Year of Magical ThinkingIn four days it will be one year since my father in law died in an accidental shooting He had recently turned 60 and recently celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary In 18 days it will be four years since my older brother died suddenly in a Back Hawk crash in Germany He was closing in on his 40th birthday He was preparing to land.I had two father figures in my life I also had two brothers I lost one of each pair suddenly dramatically I ve watched my wife struggle with the loss of her father I ve watched my mother in law struggle with the sad death and absence of her husband I ve watched my sister in law and her kids struggle with the death of their husband and father I ve watched my parents, my siblings I have grieved much myself for these two good men I was reading when they died I know this When my father in law died I was reading Falconer When my brother died I was reading This Is Water After their deaths I couldn t read for weeks, and struggled with reading for months I was in prison I was drowning in a water I could neither see nor understand.Reading Didion s sharp, sometimes funny, but always clear and precise take on her husband s death and her daughter s illness my experience is reflected Not exactly I m no Joan Didion and my relationship with both my father in law and my brother are mine However, Didion captures in the net of her prose the essence of grief, tragedy, loss, coping, remembering Her memoir makes me wonder how it is even possible that someone could both feel a semblance of what I feel and capture all the sad glitters, glints and mudgyness of mourning at the same time It takes a helluva writer. Disclaimer Being fresh into the grieving process myself, you may want to skip this review and head onto others Undoubtedly I ll purge my grief in a review about a book on grief You ve been warned.Right off the top I will say this for the book raw, powerful, honest, amazing If you have any interest in the grief process, READ THIS BOOK.The only criticism that I might have is that there s a lot of name dropping Insert famous names and some fancy locations Beverly Hills, Malibu , talk about using fine china, fancy bathrobes from some store I ll never set foot in Normally, that would drive me mad rich or poor, like that one book says, everybody poops However, I never felt with her that the name dropping was pretentious, or snobbish The people and places she named were simply a part of her life, so who am I to hold that against her Wealth, while it may provide many a luxury, cannot insulate you from death, from grief Who said death was the great equalizer It is, truly Didion s husband died very suddenly of a heart attack My mother died weeks ago slowly of cancer Very different circumstances The link is the loss Didion writes this about death after a long illness experienced with others in her lifeIn each of those cases the phrase, after a long illness would have seemed to apply, trailing its misleading suggestion of release, relief, resolution Yet having seen the picture impending death in no way deflected, when it came, the swift empty loss of the actual event.I mostly agree with her But in full disclosure, there was relief for me I would not have to watch my mom waste away for weeks MONTHS in a nursing home Release Yes and no Resolution No way After my mom died, I heard multiple times how very strong I was What I was supposed to be doing, what should I be saying Did they think I was callous for not weeping at the funeral Did they think I was putting on a front Truth be told, my grieving began 18 months prior, the minute the surgeon came out and told me she had small cell lung cancer I knew what that meant for her death My grief began then, at that moment It continued each time we d go to chemo or when she needed a blood transfusion It continued when she lost her hair It continued when tumors spread onto the nerves of her arm and she could no longer use it not to put on earrings, not to hold a cup, not to pick up her grandson One night, after having dinner at her house, I wept the entire way home, realizing that the number of meals she d make for me were limited I knew what was coming When she died, even though I saw it coming, it was there, just as Didion says, the swift empty loss.She writes about her own personal grieving process, her struggles to resolve his death in her mind She writes of how very unique it is to each situation, loss of a parent versus the loss of a spouse These sentences ring very true Grief, when it comes, is nothing we expect it to be.Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. Didion writes about the concept of grief crashing or rolling in like waves Lots of psychologists speak of it The coping information Hospice sent me also mentioned waves of grief For me, waves isn t quite right I ll call them grief grenades Waves you can see, you can hear, you feel them building and you can tell when they ll break My grief grenades have hit at moments when I least expect it Examples walking in the store and seeing my mom s favorite brand of cookies prominently displayed on the endcap Hearing on the news that 58 year old so and so died after a battle with cancer Deciding to purge out e mail contacts, I see her name Hospice calling on my birthday to see how I am holding up, instead of a call from her, singing Happy Birthday off key.Swift empty loss.In one part of the book Didion writes of getting rid of clothing that belonged to her husband She cannot bring herself to part with his shoes, in case he needs them when he comes back magical thinking, indeed There were things of my mom s I could not part with Silly things For instance, I kept a pair of her earrings that I had longed to throw away for the last few years They were cheap, old clip ons, so worn that the color had been rubbed off half the surface I d get so pissed when she wore them Did she not see that they were worn out and looked tacky as hell However, those earrings I have saved in a small box of other things that will remind me of her Mind you, I m certain she s not coming back I saw her die I dressed her body Her cremated remains sit 3 feet away from me on a shelf until we have a beautiful summer day and I can place her ashes into the water at the lake But I cannot bring myself to get rid of these things those damn earrings her favorite coffee cup bright yellow sunshine cup purchased on a trip she took to Florida , a potato masher from 1972, the nightgown she wore often in the weeks before she died a pair of her jeans, ironed, of course, with the crease down the front Unlike Didion, who could live among the things that belonged to her husband, I had to empty my mom s apartment After her death, I immersed myself in this task Some of it was easy Trash out Food that I won t use to food bank I set up boxes for her brothers, sisters and mom, things she wanted them to have, things I thought they d like to have as mementos Then it gets tricky All the furniture, boxes of clothes, the toaster I did not want to end up on an episode of Hoarders I tried to be practical and donate what I could, but there is still a corner in my basement full of her things A friend of mine said her garage is still full of her mother s things 5 years later When the last item of her furniture was lugged out of the apartment, I watched them load it into a truck and I sat in her empty apartment and wept I wept as I shut the door for the last time.Didion on the other hand, comes home, sleeps in the same bed, sees his chair, his stuff, always there A year after she dies, she goes to the chair where he took his last breath, and looks at the pile of books and magazines he d been thumbing through prior to his death How does that mess with your grief process Does it make it easier Worse In my mind as I moved things out I could say I was simply moving her into a new apartment Magical thinking.Didion kept her husband s shoes Magical thinking.For us, and for those we love who are grieving, it is so very important to recognize and appreciate the fact that we all grieve in a unique fashion Didion points to literature on proper grieving etiquette, how our culture expects us to behave, even giving us time lines for the process be stoic take a year and then get on with it, already Many great minds have discussed the process of grief leading to resolution, healing It s not that simple If I may quote another author, Anne Lamott You will lose someone you can t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved But this is also the good news They live forever in your broken heart that doesn t seal back up And you come through It s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp A year after she loses her husband, Didion has not found resolution She worries about his memory fading in her mind, of not keeping him alive She writesI know why we try to keep the dead alive we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead., let them go, keep them dead Let them become the photograph on the table Let go of them in the water.In other words, resolution may never come, but we must learn to dance with the limp. ANCHE PI CHE UN GIORNO DI PI Quando termin la cerimonia ci recammo nella villetta di Pebble Beach C erano degli stuzzichini, dello champagne, una terrazza aperta sul Pacifico, una cosa molto semplice Per la luna di miele passammo qualche notte in bungalow del ranch San Ysidro di Montecito e poi, annoiati, fuggimmo al Beverly Hills Hotel Ce la far una persona che scrive queste cose, con questo tono, ce la far a trasmettere il suo dolore, il senso della sua perdita, a risultare empatica Joan Didion e il marito John Gregory Dunne, nato a Hartford Connecticut, il 25 maggio 1932, morto a New York il 30 dicembre 2003.Oh, se ce la far Ce la fa, senza alcun dubbio, ce l ha fatta il suo libro un colpo alla parte pi sensibile del lettore, senza trascurare quella pi cognitiva Joan Didion probabilmente snob, forse anche insopportabilmente snob ma ha rara intelligenza e sensibilit e scrive da dio.Quaranta anni insieme, 24 ore al giorno perch moglie e marito sono scrittori e sceneggiatori e giornalisti a volte lavorano insieme allo stesso film, per lo pi ciascuno porta avanti la sua scrittura ma lui il primo lettore di lei, e viceversa il primo lettore di una nuova opera, ma anche semplicemente di un articolo di giornale, di un pensiero, un annotazione Tra John e Joan lo scambio continuo, quotidiano, insistito, profondo Lei non ha conservato lettere di lui semplicemente perch non si sono mai scritti stavano sempre insieme, non ce n era motivo durante le rare separazioni, le salate bollette del telefono sostituivano la corrispondenza.Per quaranta anni, 24 ore al giorno Didion e Dunne, moglie e marito, insieme scrissero la sceneggiatura di Panico a Needle Park , nata una stella , L assoluzione.Poi, una sera, in un attimo, patatrac, lui se ne va improvvisamente smette di parlare, non risponde a una domanda di lei, cade per terra ed gi morto La figlia da qualche giorno ricoverata in terapia intensiva, inizio di una lunga malattia che la vedr in ospedale per mesi, morire un anno e mezzo dopo.Joan inizia a leggere qualsiasi cosa che riesca a trovare sulla morte medicina, psicanalisi, psichiatria, scienze naturali, storia delle culture, letteratura, mitologia Questo libro ovviamente il tentativo di Didion di elaborare il suo lutto, di affrontare assenza e perdita del marito Ma, prima di tutto, una dichiarazione d a, perch racconta una magnifica storia d a.Didion racconta i fatti nei dettagli, attenta alla cronologia, ripercorrendola pi e pi volte esamina il suo sentire come un anatomopatologo cita opere sue e altrui ma anche letteratura medica della quale diventa esperta e referti, anamnesi, terapie fa ricerche su Google, prende in mano poesie, ricorda canzoni, ripercorre la sua vita, rivive ricordi, ripassa la memoria La razionalit del suo raccontare, dell uso dei dettagli, e della cronologia dei fatti, delle cose che bene o male compie, si conserva questa razionalit si sovrappone all irrazionalit dell ostinato desiderio di chi non c pi , di abolire la morte, cancellare la perdita, annullare l assenza, fermare il tempo, riavvolgerlo, riviverlo, duplicarlo Joan Didion e Vanessa Redgrave che ha portato sul palcoscenico la versione teatrale di questo memoir.Questo il pensiero magico in realt , il pensiero ipnotico che dura un anno pi un giorno, dal 30 dicembre 2003 fino al 31 dicembre 2004, quando Joan si accorge che un anno gi passato, per specchiare l oggi nello ieri insieme a John deve usare un agenda di pi e questo piccolo sforzo in pi gi il segno dell inizio dell accettazione del cambiamento.Quando Didion inizia a scrivere questo libro, John morto da nove mesi Quando lo pubblica, nell agosto del 2005, sua figlia morta da due mesi Joan non cambia il racconto, l anno del pensiero magico finito, alla figlia dedica un libro che scriver anni dopo, Blue Nights stata descritta come una personalit raffinata, sofisticata, tagliente qui, Joan Didion sa mettersi a nudo con raro coraggio e sincerit , sa mostrare i tormenti della sua anima restando intelligente profonda elegante, dotata di una scrittura che spacca.PSDi quest opera esiste un adattamento teatrale a opera della stessa Didion, portato in scena da Vanessa Redgrave.PPSS Ti amer anche pi che un giorno di pi , dice Audrey Hepburn Marian a Sean Connery Robin Hood in una delle scene pi struggenti della mia personale storia del cinema E cos dice il padre, che di cinema si era sempre nutrito nel senso pi letterale, alla figlia stesa sul letto della rianimazione lasciandola per tornare a casa Poche ore prima di morire. This is a hard book for me to review, as I know my own personal experience will be foremost A big thank you to a wonderful friend who sent this to me after the loss of my own partner three weeks ago So yes, this book is about grief and loss It is Didion s own personal journey after the loss of her husband The first lines in her memoir begin Life changes fast.Life changes in an instant.You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.The question of self pity Those words resonated with me profoundly She goes on to describe that grief is very different than loss Loss can be the death of someone very close which causes sadness, pain, loneliness, etc., but still there is a distance Still there is an ability to plan and remember things Grief however is different, as it has no distance She describes grief as the feeling of waves of distress, shortness of breath, and loss of memory, to name a few I cannot say enough about how comforting that was for me Not only did her words help me understand what was happening to me now, but also what I may experience in the future While everyone responds to grief differently, there are some general truisms One s that Didion has found not only from personal experience, but research as well I was reminded of Elisabeth Kubler Ross, and her book on the five stages of death What may seem the normal progression of feelings are often felt in no particular order or time.I had never read Joan Didion before, so I did a little research on her writing She was born way before social media, and the tell all confessional types of writing seen today When she wrote this in 2005, critics accused her of voyeurism The experience of mourning was still believed to be private, and most thought it should remain that way I find it interesting that this is the only piece I found missing from parts of her memoir.In much of this book she has written of the facts of her experience than her feelings To think, 10 years ago this was seen as voyeurism And yet, in keeping my own journal, I notice much of it is a recording of facts Maybe in some ways one s emotions shut down as the shock to the body is foremost I can only wonder in Didion s case, this coupled with the times in which she wrote, how explosive such details must have been I cannot help but feel Didion helped pave the way for many authors to reveal deeper emotions For me, this sometimes factual account did not take away from the experience that is this book I highly recommend this to anyone who is going through a grieving process, or is interested in the affects grieving produces. Hated it, hated it, hated it but kept reading with the hope that all my pain and suffering would somehow be worth it in the end It wasn t The same self pitying, whiney, depressing, self important sentiments are basically repeated over and over again only with different words Joan Didion can obviously write well, but she should have left this cathartic piece in her closet And I m not averse to reading novels that deal with grief This one was just way too self indulgent and redundant for me And Didion s pervasive name dropping and repeated descriptions of her wealth and fame just made me hate the book even. I have only experienced the death of a few friends and my grandparents, so I cannot say that the grief that Joan Didion describes has ever been my own However, her loss of her husband John from a sudden heart attack while simultaneously her daughter Quintana was fighting for her life talked to me very deeply This is not a feel good, self help book It is a heartbreaking and yet cathartic reliving of her first year as a widow I admit to wetting the pages with a few tears as I read the entire book in one sitting today The loss of some of my friends hit me hard because I could still remember them when we had spent time together and I regretted that there had been so precisely little of that time This, in a far intimate and poignant manner is what Ms Didion describes as she picks up the pieces and moves on The prose is splendid as many of the themes and images recur again and again as she processes and moves from grief to mourning I think what moved me the most was the phrase her husband had said to his daughter, I love you than even one say that Audrey Hepburn says to Sean Connery in Robin and Marian For anyone dealing with loss and bereavement, this is a very cleansing read For anyone coming out of physical or psychological trauma, I also thinking that this book hold valuable insight. I have a grubby Post it note by the side of my bed on which I ve written in pencil loss is not always death.I don t remember any if these are my words, a line I wrote down from a book, or something that I took home from therapy, but the wisdom remains loss is not always death.I have two friends right now who have been nearly decimated by recent divorces, and they will assure you, quickly, that a significant, life altering loss does not need to involve death In fact, both women will let you know, matter of factly, that the deaths of their spouses would have resulted in a financial security that the abandonment by their spouses has obliterated Loss is not always death.But here, in Joan Didion s The Year of Magical Thinking, loss is absolutely, irrevocably about death More specifically, the death of her husband, John.This is not, as I once suspected, a self help book, and there aren t, as I once thought, tips here on how to embrace magical thinking.There is no magical thinking here just a lot of recalled memories, questions about what she could have done differently to prevent her husband s death nothing and grieving, grieving, grieving.This is my first exposure to Joan Didion s writing and I can tell you with great confidence she can write The lady can write, no doubt about it.I highlighted several passages and was often in awe of the way she views life events, in a highly educated, classical sort of way.However, I had two main issues with this book Big issues that were almost deal breakers for me.My first complaint the incessant name dropping Boy howdy, do I hate name dropping, and I m encountering it and in memoirs lately Ms Didion, for whatever reason, wants you to know that she hangs out with famous people, stays at fancy hotels, and she didn t drive a car, she drove a Corvette.She is also extremely out of touch with how other people live, and I couldn t honestly tell if this was just a personal limitation or if she wanted us to know that it was the very nature of how special her particular life was with her husband that made her fall so much harder than the rest of us would, if we lost our spouses This paragraph of hers is the perfect example of what I m trying to convey Later, after I married and had a child, I learned to find equal meaning in the repeated rituals of domestic life Setting the table Lighting the candles Building the fire Cooking All those souffl s, all that cr me caramel, all those daubes and alb ndigas and gumbos These fragments I have shored against my ruins.Do you see the problem It s partly poetic, and partly revolting Ms Didion never drives back to the hotel, she always drives back to the Beverly Wilshire The second complaint her memoir is so very specific to the loss of John versus the loss of spouse, I honestly found that her story lacked general appeal I understand it is HER story, but I believe that a reader must find themselves somewhere in the pages, in order to remain engaged Occasionally, she dug deep and tapped into some approachable, generalized suffering and this, to me, is when her writing truly hit its mark my heart.I would imagine that the hardest part about being separated, divorced or widowed after so many years with a partner would be the living alone, and she captures this feeling ever so poignantly here There came a time in the summer when I began feeling fragile, unstable A sandal would catch on a sidewalk and I would need to run a few steps to avoid a fall What if I didn t What if I fell What would break, who would see the blood streaming down my leg, who would get the taxi, who would be with me in the emergency room Who would be with me once I got home Now that is a fear that most of us would find relatable This memoir was not a slam dunk for me, but I do have great compassion for Ms Didion s terrible loss and I have found myself kissing my family members often on the cheeks this week Sometimes it s good to be reminded that we could lose our loved ones at any time.I think Ms Didion s fiction might be a appropriate undertaking for me, and I will tackle some of it soon, but I do hope her characters dine on something other than daubes and alb ndigas Whatever the hell those are. I hated this book It is the reason I instituted my 100 pages policy if it s not promising 100 pages in, I will no longer waste my time on it So within the 100 pages I did read, all I got from Didion was that she and her husband used to live a fabulous life and they know a lot of famous people She spoke of the 60s as a time when everyone was flying from LA to San Francisco for dinner Um, no, actually, everyone wasn t doing that then and they re not doing it now Instead of saying our friend so and so gave the eulogy at my husband s funeral, she said, The great essayist David Halberstam What does that add to the story I found only brief spots of actual grief for Didion s husband and daughter, but they weren t enough to overpower my loathing for the author and her self importance. Like Johnny Rotten said during their last in the universe where they never would re form again in the mid 90 s show, Do you ever feel like you ve been cheated I do Johnny, I do I feel cheated by this book I bought it because it cost me a dollar I wasn t interested in it that much I finally picked it up to read because I wanted to write a review about how pathetic and whiny it was I thought I d say something about how now that baby boomers are starting to kick the bucket they want a fucking monopoly on death too, as if they invented grieving and no one before them could have possibly grieved like they do Or maybe point out that we really don t need another memoir about someone dying and the way that the surviving family member found some shallow platitude to be true and now feels the need to share it i.e., Everyone said life goes on, but I had to cry for awhile and then write a three hundred page book making it seem like I was the first person in the history of the whole world to have a parent die before realizing that hey it s true , and life does go on especially with the nice advance I got from the book deal Thank you Random House But no, I don t get to attack Joan Didion And part of me so wanted to Instead of finding her whiny, or annoying, or exploitive or whatever I find that I have quite a bit of respect for her Other s apparently have had trouble with some of the name dropping that Didion does Yes she does a lot of name dropping, her and her late husbands friends happen to be house hold names if you re household is bookish, maybe yours isn t, and there is nothing wrong with that And maybe she does name drop the names of expensive hotels and restaurants she normally at in with her John Gregory Dunne, and maybe some people would rather have elaborate descriptions of the decor of these places then her just saying she ate there, or details about what so and so said at her husbands funeral, and not just that he or she spoke at it But that s missing the point and if she had done that I would have been or so happy because I d be writing a review right now about the banality of memoirs and their narcissistic egoism that only serves to make the author and publisher some dollars Instead Didion is really investigating and putting to paper the way that memory and perception work under the duress of grief The snapshots of memory of a loved one don t necessarily contain any details about the table clothes of a favorite restaurant, but the place itself, it s name where it was located is a memory land mine of the deceased, waiting to go off and spiral out to other memories at it s mere mention This book deals with the irrational element of grief so well It captures the mundane little things that can emotionally paralyze a person, and it s written from that place which our society would rather not acknowledge and that people should just get over , and there is no happy ending to the book, there is no climatic cathartic moment.I ve lost where I was going I think Oh well.