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Read of the Week: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Written by The Reader, 10th August 2016



This week's Read comes from one of our loveliest Readers in Residence, Vic, who suggests Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking.

A colleague at The Reader very kindly suggested I read a book called ‘The Year Of Magical Thinking’ by Joan Didion.

Didion lost her husband John very suddenly in 2003 then tragically also lost her only daughter Quintana in 2005. The Year Of Magical Thinking is a memoir that deals with Didion’s thoughts and feelings in the aftermath of John’s death. A year in which she found herself keeping John’s shoes in case he returned.

Didion states that ‘Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.’ Though this phrase is very early on in the book, it really chimed with me. It felt very true to my own experience and kept me reading on. There are moments in the book in which Didion interrogates herself ‘Why did I keep stressing what was and was not normal, when nothing about it was?’ 41C5tvGtOBL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_There are moments in her writing that seem to operate in the space between what people see of a person and what they don’t see of the person happening beneath – which feels very true to the territory of grief:

 ‘I had done it. I had acknowledged that he was dead. I had done this in as public a way as I could conceive. Yet my thinking on this point remained suspiciously fluid.’

A beautifully written and helpful book.


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