Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking

I’ve had a copy of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking for a long, long while, and I finally got to read it last week, on the plane to New York. It’s her memoir of the year following the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, of a massive heart attack while their only daughter, Quintana, was in the hospital, receiving treatment for septic shock. (After the book was completed, but before its publication, Quintana passed away, in an almost unbearable post scriptum.) Didion chronicles the process of grief and mourning with stunning clarity, and many times I was moved to tears and had to put the book down. But there were also moments when I was frustrated by the sheer amount of control in the prose, as if the words could somehow serve as refuge from things Didion might not want the reader to know.