So there I was yesterday, thinking that I was almost done with The Uses of Enchantment and that I should start considering my review. Then I got distracted by my Google Reader (as I do most days at work) and an article on the blog Jezebel.
The post was about the sadness the blogger feels when finding out about a couple’s break-up after reading the memoir that chronicles their love. See Tamasin Day-Lewis’ Where Shall We Go For Dinner. While I could sympathize with the post, it was actually a comment that caught my eye. Commenter “eatsshootsleaves” writes, “In this sort of way, The Year of Magical Thinking is sort of a happy book. There is death but also true love.” They go on to say that they cried buckets, but was still very glad they had read it and that it is one of Didion’s best.
I have been cautiously eyeing The Year of Magical Thinking on my mom’s list for a while now. I keep wanting to pick it, but then I get nervous about it being too sad. But this commenter has unknowingly urged me forward.
So this post is me sucking it up and deciding to read the book. It’s also me avoiding collecting my thoughts on The Uses of Enchantment to share in a coherent post. But mostly about my choosing The Year of Magical Thinking.
The book’s description from Random House’s website:
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 child.
Several days before Christmas 2003, 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 hematoma.
This 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.”
This is not going to be an easy book. Maybe I’m a masochist for picking it, but it had to be read eventually. It’s on the list after all. So here goes nothing…