Friday, February 01, 2008


The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion, Alfred A Knopf, 2005, 227 pp

I would not have read this book except that it was picked by one of my reading groups. I didn't look forward to reading about someone else's loss and grief and wading through a lot of emotional heavy waters. As it turned out, the only problem I had with the book was a certain lack of emotional depth, since Joan Didion applied her signature cerebral style to the story of her first year following her husband's death.

John Gregory Dunne had already had two heart surgeries and lived on into his seventies thanks to a pacemaker. Yet his death came as a complete shock to his wife. I realized that no matter how expected or prepared for, death is usually a shock to the living.

In the end I felt fine about Ms Didion's book and especially I understood the title to mean the kind of thinking that the living indulge in as a possible way to bring back the lost loved one. Because Didion is a writer by profession, I would like to think that writing this book was her way of dealing with what happened.

Personally I feel that death is much harder on the living than on the one who died. I also believe that the death of the body is not the end of life for an individual, and if that is an example of magical thinking, so be it. What I think is that people should be allowed to think what they like to think and I get that Joan Didion would agree with me on that.

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