I loved this book. I hadn’t read anything by Joan Didion until sometime last year when Nate gave me Slouching Towards Bethlehem and I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read. So Nate here is your public thank you, don’t let your head explode 🙂
I think one of the most important themes of The Year of Magical Thinking is that our culture does not really deal well with grief. There are these set rituals (funeral, wake, etc.) with set expectations of attitude and action, but after that, there is nothing. The ritual of dying ones clothing black for a year afterwards may seem antiquated but there may be something to be said for that, it serves as a public notice – Look out, I may not be myself. Because while we accept that one might be sad following loss we don’t necessarily consider the mental disruption that occurs.
While Didion’s account deals with the loss of a spouse that she spent almost all of her working and recreational hours with, this books provides a look at grief and loss with honesty that we don’t often get to see. Because of the honesty it was often hard to read, it made me consider some parts of my life in a different light. When she mentions how she took to wearing only tennis shoes because she was worried she would fall and hurt herself and no one would be there, I couldn’t help but think what if I fall? I live alone, how long would it take for someone to notice I had not shown up when and where I was supposed to? I couldn’t get through more that a chapter at a time without stopping to digest what I had read, but I think that was a good thing and I definitely recommend it.