Features of The Year of Magical Thinking PDF
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion that 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 the year of magical thinking pdf.
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.
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Description of The Year of Magical Thinking PDF
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Joan Didion was born in Sacramento in 1934 and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1956. After graduation, Didion moved to New York and began working for Vogue, which led to her career as a journalist and writer. Didion published her first novel, Run River, in 1963. Didion’s other novels include A Book of Common Prayer (1977), Democracy (1984), and The Last Thing He Wanted (1996).
Didion’s first volume of essays, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, was published in 1968, and her second, The White Album, was published in 1979. Her nonfiction works include Salvador (1983), Miami (1987), After Henry (1992), Political Fictions (2001), Where I Was From (2003), We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live (2006), Blue Nights (2011), South and West (2017) and Let Me Tell You What I Mean (2021). Her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2005.
In 2005, Didion was awarded the American Academy of Arts & Letters Gold Medal in Criticism and Belles Letters. In 2007, she was awarded the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. A portion of National Book Foundation citation read: “An incisive observer of American politics and culture for more than forty-five years, Didion’s distinctive blend of spare, elegant prose and fierce intelligence has earned her books a place in the canon of American literature as well as the admiration of generations of writers and journalists.” In 2013, she was awarded a National Medal of Arts and Humanities by President Barack Obama, and the PEN Center USA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Didion said of her writing: “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.” She died in December 2021.
Photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe
Dimensions and Characteristics of The Year of Magical Thinking PDF
- Identification Number : B000OI0FS0
- Publisher : Vintage; 1st edition (February 13, 2007)
- Publication date : February 13, 2007
- Language : English
- File size : 1320 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 242 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
This was recommended to me as a book that a friend had given others in times of grief. Reading it, I was horrified. If your grieving friend is wealthy and surrounded by caretakers of all kinds, by all means, give them this book. If they’re ordinary folks expected to go back to work after 3 days of bereavement leave, do not, under any circumstances, give them this book. I’d never read anything by Joan Didion prior, so if you’re a long time fan of her writing you might disagree. She certainly went through losses that would make anyone stagger. I just found that I couldn’t identify with her experiences. She describes months of folks making sure she was taken care of. Can’t relate. She recounts good times in a long marriage that involves luxurious travels and freedom gained through wealth. Can’t relate. Am I jealous? Probably. I have to say that I feel like this book could have been one amazing essay, instead of a book length piece of rumination. the year of magical thinking pdf Maybe she published it because she figured that as a widow she needed riches upon riches? Valid, but ridiculous. Everyone has bouts of narcissistic navel gazing, it’s just unfortunate that this one was published with much acclaim.
I donated this to a local book swap, but made a note on it to the next reader that if you’re recently bereaved and struggling, this is the absolute last book you should read for comfort, unless you are as well off as Didion.
False Bill of Goods, or Rich Lady Complains
February 7, 2020
I have not in my adult life felt so strongly, so NEGATIVELY, about a book that I feel compelled to write a negative review of it. I will say here, as a word to prospective buyers: I saw all the negative reviews when I clicked “BUY”—I chose to look past them, thinking the reviewers might be over-sensitive bleeding hearts—but those negative reviews were correct.
This is not a book about “magical thinking.” After the title, Joan Didion uses that phrase only one more time near the very beginning of the book—and never explains what she means by it. Instead, this is a book about a privileged white woman whose priorities are so out of whack that she cannot come to terms with the death of her husband, because she is too busy: oh, I don’t know, showing off her self-taught medical knowledge to doctors, and complaining about the price of plane tickets to Indonesia, and affecting despair that a rental home on the Pacific Coast Highway was torn down, and she can’t visit it anymore. To illustrate my point: the year of magical thinking pdf Toward the end of the book, there’s a moment where Didion writes that the morning her husband died, she had been thinking about the fancy things on her shopping list, and that she had to eat cold food the day after her husband died, because she didn’t remember to warm it up (or something). Instead of painting a humanizing picture of grief (“Oh, if only we could see the forest for the tress!”), instead, Didion seems to be betraying a conscience which is thinking, “Mercy me! I never *did* pick those things up,” and “Civilized people *don’t* eat cold coq au vin.” *Sigh.*
I am terribly sorry for the grief Joan Didion endured in 2004. In fact, that’s why I decided to read the book. My 2019 was full of misfortunes and pitfalls (literally, I broke my hip and was immobilized for months, at the same time I was to be caring for my newborn baby). In fact, her misfortunes far outweighed mine, but you’d never know it the way she writes about her own upper-crust New York neuroses. I wanted to shake her the whole time and wake her up to the suffering of the majority of the population that does not enjoy her wealth and status in times of trouble.
In short, there is no magic to be found here. Sadness, yes, but also a ghastly sense of what is truly important in life. The lesson here is ENJOY THE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE WHILE YOU HAVE THEM, Joan. Don’t wait until they’re gone to realize that family is more important than keeping up appearances.
And to the prospective reader: save your $12 and go for a walk with somebody you love. It’ll be money saved, and time better spent. You’ll feel better. I promise.
Poignant, a little painful, totally real
December 5, 2017
My husband died 02/20/2017. A friend recommended this book. It touched my heart – and hit a few nerves – as I shared this tale of confusion and pain. But in this reading, I gained insight into myself and my own unique grief. I learned that each of us have experiences that are similar and also totally different. I found myself recognizing many of my feelings in Ms. Didion’s book. Some of it was painful, but it was also freeing. I know that I will not magically “get back to normal”. I know that my life will never be the same – that I will never be the same person I was before. This wonderful book gave me hope and courage. I can forge a future for myself and still carry my memories with me. A wonderfully engaging book. A Godsend for me, personally.
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Top reviews from other countries
Didion is a self-centered narcissist
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 6, 2018
The Year of Magical Thinking documents the process of grieving that Didion went through in the year after her husband’s death, and has been widely acclaimed for its detached, stylised writing. A case of the emperor’s new clothes? To my mind her voice is cold, dishonest and vague: there is no heart to this book. Given the subject matter, I find this particularly chilling. She intellectualises her grief for her husband to the extent of removing all emotion. There is no sense of who her husband was – just an awful lot about Didion herself, a clinical recitation of all the literature on grief she’s read, and endless throwaway remarks about her privileged status in Malibu and New York. Then there’s the subplot of The Year of Magical Thinking, which is a devastating one: her daughter, Quintana, is gravely ill in hospital while Didion herself is trying to come to terms with her husband’s death (Quintana will in fact die the following summer, after Didion had drafted her manuscript but before the book was published). But not once does Didion express any love or warmth for her sickening daughter. Maybe this is why I struggled with this book and am judging her so harshly. In a recent documentary on Netflix (The Centre Will Not Hold), the closest Didion can come to saying something even remotely affectionate about her daughter is “her humour worked for me”. Other than that, it’s all about Didion. One review of Blue Nights, the book she wrote after The Year of Magical Thinking, about her daughter’s death, puts it this way: “What is perhaps most odd about this work is how little we ultimately learn about Quintana, who remains in the background and sometimes fades entirely from view.” It’s hard to feel any empathy for someone so resolutely focused on herself amid such sadness and tragedy.
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SELF-CENTRED NARCISSISM ASIDE …
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 22, 2019
I couldn’t get into this until, one day, i had nothing else to read and so,carried on reading. It took time but I started to come alongside her detachment and obsession. Towards the end I found myself in tears and tried to read something out to my wife but stopped, blubbing. My own heart attack experience was explained beautifully. A small quote – along the lines of – “the clear blue sky from which the plane fell”, was so perfectly descriptive of how arbitrary life can seem. What do you recommend I read next?
I don’t know what to make of this
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 7, 2018
I haven’t read much Joan Didion so have no markers to steer by, but this book was rubbish and fabulous, repetitive and singular, funny and heartbreaking in equal measure, all the way through. The single word I think I’d use to describe it is ‘Lonesome’. Because it is. I admired her fortitude as well as weakness, her grief as well as her (few) joys, and I can only think it was written as both a cathartic and a learning experience.
Despite these weasel words, read it anyway.
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