The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion

Interesting to read this after The Spirit Catches You. There is some of the same mystery around medical conditions, in this case the debilitating illnesses that Didion’s daughter Qunitana suffers through but which the doctors can’t really explain. (Reminds me of House too, TV junkie that I am.)

The book doesn’t deal with Quintana’s death, which occurred after the book went to print. Didion didn’t want retool it, declaring it “finished.”

But I didn’t know that till after I was almost done. I was reading along and reading along, and I was almost finished, and Quintana was still alive, and I thought I must have misheard or misread that she had died too, and I got very excited, thinking, So Didion’s not all alone after all. She didn’t suffer the devastating blow of her husband and daughter dying within such a short timeframe. But she did.

Of course I don’t know if she’s all alone. It seems she has a lot of people in her life and of course she has her writing. Ironic because what probably helped save her, pains her too, because her husband was also a writer, and they’d read and critique each other’s work.

If I ever date another writer, I’d want that kind of open relationship. No hiding. Your significant other should be the first person you show your work too, especially if he or she pursues the same craft. If not, then something’s wrong.

I thought of my own life a lot while reading this. For a long time, the calendar in my head surrounded a particular trying time. This event happened before it, this happened after it. It’s been a year since this, two years since that. I also grieved though in a different way.

I wondered if death would have been easier to deal with. With death there’s no betrayal. But there’s more loss. There’s more wondering what could have been and missing the happy things. With me, it’s good to put it all behind me.

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