Friday, August 21, 2020

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

 Writing a review of this seems pointless or mean. It’s not the kind of book that you enjoy. Didion, an excellent writer whose Slouching Toward Bethlehem and Play It As It Lays I greatly enjoyed, presents an emotionally raw journal (with a polish added to the prose) that accounts for her year of grief after her husband died. A year her daughter spends largely in the ICU.  It is a sort of secular counterpoint to CS Lewis’s A Grief Observed, to which she refers in the early going and quotes later in the book. There is no “divine vivesectionist” cruelly testing the limits of his subjects pain thresholds, but the the tone is similar. I like A Grief Observed because it let Lewis speak to his doubts in a powerful way, and I liked this as well. But if I’m being honest, today at least, it feels a little obscene or voyeuristic to look at someone else’s pain this way. It could be cathartic, I think, if I was in a different frame of mind. But I just feel sad and like I just took too much interest in some heartbreaking gossip (a tendency I admit I have at times).

I would call it Highly Recommended to put it in the terms of my rating scale, but in terms of actually recommending it to anyone, I’d have to take it on a case by case basis.

Owned But Previously Unread 2020 60/75.

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