Author(s): Joan Didion
From one of America's greatest and most iconic writers: an honest and courageous portrait of age and motherhood. Several days before Christmas 2003, Joan Didion's only daughter, Quintana, fell seriously ill. In 2010, Didion marked the sixth anniversary of her daughter's death. 'Blue Nights' is a shatteringly honest examination of Joan Didion's life as a mother, a woman and a writer. Recently widowed, and becoming increasingly frail, 'Blue Nights' is Didion's attempt to understand our deepest fears, our inadequate adjustments to aging and to put a name to what we refuse to see and as a consequence fail to face up to, 'this refusal even to engage in such contemplation, this failure to confront the certainties of aging, illness and death. This fear.' This fear is tied to what we cherish most and fight to conserve, protect, and refuse to let go, for, 'when we are talking about mortality we are talking about our children.' To face death is to let go of memory, to be bereft once more, 'I know what it is I am now experiencing. I know what the frailty is, I know what the fear is.' The fear is not for what is lost. The fear is for what is still to be lost. You may see nothing still to be lost. Yet there is no day in her life on which I do not see her. A profound, poetic and powerful book about motherhood and the fierce way in which we continue to exalt and nurture our children, even if they only live on in memory. 'Blue Nights' is an intensely personal, and yet, strangely universal account of how we love. It is both groundbreaking and a culmination of a stunning career.
Reviews for 'A Year of Magical Thinking': 'It is the most awesome performance of both participating in, and watching, an event. Even though Didion does not allow herself to break down, only a terribly controlled reader will resist doing the same.' John Freeman, Independent 'Ultimately, and unexpectedly for a book about illness and death, this is a wonderfully life affirming book.' Lisa O'Kelly, Observer 'Searing, informative and affecting. Don't leave life without it.' Financial Times 'This is a beautiful and devastating book by one of the finest writers we have. Didion has always been a precise, humane and meticulously truthful writer, but on the subject of death she becomes essential.' Zadie Smith 'Taking the reader to places where they would not otherwise go is one of the things a really good book can do. "The Year of Magical Thinking" does just that, and brilliantly. Powerful, moving and true.' Cressida Connolly, Spectator 'Didion's famously sparse, honed, almost brittle prose spells out an anguish which is universal. Her book, exploring an agonising universal experience, will speak to and maybe comfort anyone who has lost for ever the one they loved.' Val Hennesy, Critics Choice, Daily Mail 'Cool has been Didion's literary trademark, but this brave book maps a year in her life when the world flipped over to expose the underside of cool where things go bad.' The Times 'Didion's way of working through her grief is as remarkable as it is moving.' Daily Express A marvellously acute anatomy of grief!it must have been a help to write it, and it should be a help to others too.' Sunday Telegraph 'Grief, [Didion] observes, is an emotion the modern world shies away from. Didion's courage in confronting it is inspirational.' Mail on Sunday
Joan Didion is the author of five novels and seven previous books of nonfiction: among them the great portraits of a decade in essays, 'Sentimental Journeys', 'The White Album', and 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'. Her previous book, 'The Year of Magical Thinking' was an international bestseller.