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After her husband's fatal heart attack, which came at a time when their daughter Quintana was in intensive care for complications after pneumonia, Didion was labeled "a pretty cool customer" by a social worker because she seemed to be handling these shocks so calmly. Caruso's reading certainly reflects this aspect of Didion's reaction—sometimes her clear, elegant voice seems downright cold, making the listener wish for a little more emotion. The slightly eerie sounds of bells and cello that swell in at occasional breaks in the narration help in this respect, but mostly the audiobook is as straightforward a production as Didion wanted her life to be in that horrible year. Throughout those months, Didion immersed herself in the literature of grief and quotes frequently from poets and writers who helped her come to terms with her pain. Caruso does a good job with these passages, lingering on and highlighting certain phrases that Didion returns to time and again, shifting their meaning slightly as she progresses. Despite trying to write in an almost clinically detached way, Didion's sorrow and anger do break through at times in the book. Unfortunately, Caruso's cool reserve never cracks, so this audio ends up making less of an impact than the National Book Award– winning print edition.
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Didion's husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, died of a heart attack, just after they had returned from the hospital where their only child, Quintana, was lying in a coma. This book is a memoir of Dunne's death, Quintana's illness, and Didion's efforts to make sense of a time when nothing made sense. "She's a pretty cool customer," one hospital worker says of her, and, certainly, coolness was always part of the addictive appeal of Didion's writing. The other part was the dark side of cool, the hyper-nervous awareness of the tendency of things to go bad. In 2004, Didion had her own disasters to deal with, and she did not, she feels, deal with them coolly, or even sanely. This book is about getting a grip and getting on; it's also a tribute to an extraordinary marriage.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This book took a little getting used to however I ultimately enjoyed her analysis.Published 10 days ago by Lauren
Loved Didion's writing style in this book -- it made her thoughts and feelings very visceral. Its hard to imagine this tragedy but with this book we can get into the mind of... Read morePublished 12 days ago by Christine Anderson
A book that has "magical thinking" in the title suggests to me that there will be profound ideas in the pages. I found none. Read morePublished 14 days ago by foolish
One of the best descriptions of grief and mourning. Gives the reader surprising insights into the workings of the mind. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Old Man Walking
An easy to read and poignant story of loss and the process of acceptance. Thank you Joan for putting into words what it feels like to be
in that quasi present state of life... Read more
Totally consumes you and just makes you feel... Great read full of emotions. Beautifully written that makes you not want to put it down till finish.Published 23 days ago by VictoriaB
This book was very poignant and courageous. I have prioritized it in my death-and-dying library. At times I felt the author dropped too many names, but then she has lots of names... Read morePublished 23 days ago by Lois Hjelmstad
Deaths in the eyes of thee bewildered. Each account brings transparency through a mudgy situation. This account provides an open mind and heart.Published 24 days ago by Veda McLean