Friday, March 15, 2013

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

I am always floored by Joan Didion's fearless, lyrical writing. If anyone knows how to put her thoughts down in words, it's this author who once again takes us on a journey of life, love, grief and loss. Her daughter Quintana Roo fell ill and died not long after Didion's husband, John Gregory Dunne, died of a sudden heart attack, an event she chronicles in The Year of Magical Thinking.

I listened to Blue Nights as an audiobook and was no less enthralled by her writing as she tells the story of adoption, motherhood, family, and a thoughtful examination of her own frailty and aging. If I had any complaint, though, it would be her use of repetition throughout the book. There were names, places, events, that she referred to in full again and again, almost assuming we might need to remember that the hospital Quintana was born in was the one in Santa Monica. Once we've heard it a couple of times, we don't really need to have it placed again. There was a dream Quintana used to have as a young child, too, that was referred to over and over again, about the 'Broken Man'. I didn't really get why this was brought up as much as it was, but I can hardly fault her as it seems what we are really reading is her private means of remembering, never wanting to let go of the details of a loved one. She is allowing the reader inside what is usually a very private process.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Although I haven't read this one, I did enjoy The Year of Magical Thinking and found it touching.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Year of Magical Thinking was beautifully written, but it was also terribly depressing. I haven't picked up BlueNights because of this.

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I just bought an audio version of this book at a second hand shop and I look forward to "reading" it. It is next in line after I finish my current audio book, so thanks for this timely review!

Debbie Rodgers said...

I loved A Year of Magical Thinking and want very much to read this.

Perhaps the repetition won't be as annoying when one can just sweep one's eyes past the over-detailed reference? I'm hoping so. ;-)

Trish said...

Diane - yes, touching is the right word for both these books.

Deb - It took me a while to pick this up for that same reason, especially given that this was about her child - an ordeal beyond tragic for a parent. Ultimately, I guess, it was her wisdom I was hoping to absorb.

Crowe Reads - Its wonderful as an audiobook. The narrator really gets Didion's writing and intention.

Debbie - Yes, the reading of it might be different that way. And really, it wasn't all that bad, it just got to be a little odd.