“The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion

I’m not sure what to say about this book. In fact it’s taken me more than a month to publish this post. I’ve spent much time thinking about what to say and I’ve drawn the conclusion that there isn’t anything that I can say that would be able to encapsulate, summarize, or even describe a portion of what Didion (bio) has written. The subject of her work and the way in which she expresses her experience is with such natural logic and inherent tact that I cannot attempt to convey it without diluting it. What I can say, however, is that The Year of Magical Thinking is an intellectual yet pure expression of a universal human experience gravid with emotion, of an attempt to understand and adapt to those most final, irreversible, and destabilizing aspects of death and mourning.

It is important to know that despite the weight of the subject matter of this book, The Year of Magical Thinking is in no way dark and does not feel heavy. The hardest and saddest moments could only be so described because of the honesty of Didion’s writing, which, both directly and indirectly, discusses all the twists and turns that the mourning mind takes in its search to make sense of the world.

The Year of Magical Thinking is a book about the environment of death – mourning, grief, loss, and the inevitable questions of self that arise in this landscape. Reading the last line and closing the back cover with nothing more left to read was like getting hit with a wall-like gust of wind or plunging into cold water – not because of the plot but because of the thoughts that Didion conjures. The thought process that immediately ensues is akin to a philosophical and somewhat existential rumination.

Read and reflect.


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