Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Year of Magical Thinking

This book had been staring at me for a while. I knew what it was about, and I knew who had written it, so I knew what I was in for. In fact, I was looking for it, another mile along the road towards coming to grips with my lamentable mortality, a follow-up to Eugene O'Neil's Chasing Daylight, which I see that I read almost exactly two years ago.

And so, the book, in which Joan Didion watches her husband John Gregory Dunne keel over and die at the dinner table, even as their daughter Quintana Roo is in the hospital in a coma from some freakish illness. No fun.

Didion, true to form, and like a good WASP, chronicles her disbelief at and distancing from the events in her trademarked neo-Hemingway style. She tells us more of quasi-catatonia than of thrashing and gnashing, which, it would seem, she skipped. She gives us a pretty solid survey of the available literature on grief.

The book succeeds as a portrait of a marriage. She loved him, their lives were deeply intertwined, this she pulls off. She also does a good job telling about waiting not once but twice at the bedside of her gravely ill only child. This is some heavy shit. But I have no idea why she leaves us hanging about the final disposition of her daughter, after telling us earlier that there was like an 8% chance of her recuperating and being mentally all there. I, for one, thought that was important and was hoping for a little closure.

But Didion was too busy reminiscing about going to Paris or some sandwich they ate in Honolulu or room service at the Beverly Wilshire. In the end, there's a little too much name-dropping and display of privilege for me to really care much. I would rather have heard about her daughter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a warning... in terms of male enhancement, "magical thinking" alone will not do it, but a special cream just might.