Friday, November 21, 2008

"The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion

When I am getting ready to read a book I always make sure that it is completely different from the one I had read before. The two books must differ in the mood they convey, the subject matter, the genre, sometimes the era each was created in, but most importantly I make sure that the mood is always the opposite. When I read a horror book I know that the next one will be Dickens or Hugo. When I read a sad, heart wrenching novel, the one after that will be light, easy and funny. All this is because every book I read I experience it on many levels (mental, spiritual, sometimes even physical). In this order, it came a turn to read "Year of Magical Thinking". I had wanted to read it for a long time, but having known what it was about I thought I wasn't ready to experience it. But as there is time for everything, there was time for finally reading Ms Didion's book.
In a very raw manner, it is a work of non-fiction describing how Joan Didion dealt with the death of her husband of forty years and a death - threatening illness of her daughter. I write raw since the book is so much more than that. In a very intelligent and at the same time cautious way the author lets us know how much suffering and sorrow the death of her beloved husband has caused her. It is not easy to see it, some who've read it even claim that the language is too technical to convey any feelings at all, yet once you understand the reason behind all the medical terms and all the technicalities, you see all the better how hard, if not really impossible, it is for Didion to come to terms with the death of her life partner. After all it is much easier to write about the pain and suffering if it is not own. Easier even, if it is completely made up. When write about your own, it is a process where you learn about yourself, you discover sometimes unsettling things that were there all the time yet you couldn't see.
I will let you read the book and decide for yourself how you perceive it and whether or not you agree with me. One thing is certain it is not an easy read and should not be read on the beach when you simply have nothing else better to do. For if you do that, you will be disappointed and maybe even not finish it, through no fault of the book or the writer however.