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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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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.
It's a downer no doubt - but she is such a beautiful writer! A good book for anyone who wants to understand the process of grief.Published 15 hours ago by Geetha Gopalan
This is a hard book for me to review, as I know my own personal experience will be foremost. A big thank you to a wonderful friend who sent this to me after the loss of my own... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Debbie Wilson
I read it as a prelude to sending it to a friend who just lost her spouse. I am convinced it may help her grieving and so am going to send it and wait for her feedback.Published 3 days ago by Douglas J. Wolf
This book helped me when dealing with my mother's death. Sad, funny and insightful. I new take on death and how to come to terms with it.Published 9 days ago by Elizabeth Miskimmon
My first time reading Joan Didion. I'll be looking for more. Great writer. Timely subject.Published 20 days ago by Amazon Customer
I enjoyed the book as Joan Didion is, as ever, a writer of angelic gifts. However the work is to me ,from a far different Southern culture, to a degree self-referential and even,... Read morePublished 26 days ago by Lin Cooper
Having lost my husband to a cardio arrest, I really identified with Joan's gut feeling writing. I especially relate to her use of the "vortex" to describe all those places... Read morePublished 26 days ago by Elaine K. Lukas
Joan Didion has written a book full of her entitlement and privilege, one that tries to answer the question, "how could this happen when I'm so intelligent and rich? Read morePublished 27 days ago by Homer