Grief Works

Joan Didions Magical memoir on death

In Chapter 17 of The Year of Magical Thinking, an astonishingly concise and accurate statement of the experience of confronting death, Didion writes, "Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. . . . We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes . . . We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are trapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can be know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself."

Didion confronts this experience with a grace and strength that not even the body of her collected works, graceful and strong as it is, prepares us for. And The Year of Magical Thinking, her most affecting and emotional revealing book, may turn out to be her best and most lasting.

THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING BY JOAN DIDION; KNOPF. HARDCOVER, 227 PAGES, $23.95.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
 

Around The Web

Anaheim Event Tickets
Loading...