Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Year of Magical Thinking

Have you ever heard of "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion? It's a book that describes her feelings and experiences after the death of her husband. In her words - this book is the author's attempt to make sense of the weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness, about marriage and children and memory...about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself. There's a subplot - before her husband dies suddenly, they were dealing with the hospitalization of her only child who was in ICU. The daughter eventually recovers, the husband dies.
After her husband's death, she talks about avoiding places that brought back memories, her denial of her husband's death, the first few nights being alone in her apartment and recounts countless conversations she had with her husband.
In this year of magical thinking - the reader gets to see what goes on in her head. She questions herself often. She is a researcher/author, so she does alot of research on death and grief to get answers and validate her feelings.
Ultimately, she is very gripping in her honesty.
As the author says, "Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be "healing." A certain forward movement will prevail. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact 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."

I think this book is a worthwhile read.