The Year Of Magical Thinking

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The Year Of Magical Thinking

Read by Barbara Caruso
by Joan Didion

Highbridge Company | October 6, 2005 | Audio Book (CD)

The Year Of Magical Thinking is rated 3.8235 out of 5 by 17.
Didion''s journalistic skills are displayed as never before in this story of a year in her life that began with her daughter in a medically induced coma and her husband unexpectedly dead due to a heart attack. This powerful and moving work is Didion''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." With vulnerability and passion, Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience of love and loss. THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING will speak directly to anyone who has ever loved a husband, wife, or child.

Format: Audio Book (CD)

Dimensions: 1 pages, 5.62 × 4.96 × 0.83 in

Published: October 6, 2005

Publisher: Highbridge Company

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 159887005x

ISBN - 13: 9781598870053

Found in: Biography and Memoir
When a novelist of extraordinary talent turns this talent toward telling her own very personal story, the result can be magic. Such is the case with this memoir by Joan Didion. In A Year of Magical Thinking, Didion shares with us what life felt like in the year following the unexpected and sudden death of her husband, award-winning writer John Dunne. In simple, elegant, prose we experience the shock, sadness, pain, and emptiness that are essential emotions in a grieving process. But we also experience the eventual healing - if healing means the strength to go on. John Dunne has a sudden heart attack while his wife was preparing dinner. The day Dunne died had already been a very difficult one for they had just left their 33-year-old daughter, their only child, in intensive care struggling for her life. In an instant, an ordinary instant, Didion's life changed forever. In this story which is at once universal and unique, Didion shares what she felt as she faced the days and weeks following Dunne's death. Anyone who has lost some close to them, and everyone who knows that sooner or later this experience will be a part of one's own life, will treasure and be moved by this story. At its very core it reminds us that every day is a gift. You will remember the messages of this book long after you put it down.

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from a rather remote memoir Joan Didion’s well-regarded memoir The Year of Magical Thinking recalls the year following the death of her husband and writing partner John Gregory Dunne. Didion and Dunne were married for 40 years and were literary royalty. They counted many other famous writers and celebrities among their friends. It would seem that theirs was a charmed life. John Gregory’s famous brother, Dominick, writes about his brother’s death here. “Life changes fast. Life changes in an instant,” Didion writes. And while we certainly all know this is true, Didion experiences it first hand at a particularly trying point in her life. She and her husband have just returned from the hospital where their only daughter Quintana is recovering from a particularly virulent flu. They’ve just sat down to dinner when Didion looks up from her salad and sees him slumped over the table. " I have no idea what subject we were on, the Scotch or World War One, at the instant he stopped talking. I only remember looking up. His left hand was raised and he was slumped motionless. At first I thought he was making a failed joke, an attempt to make the difficulty of the day seem manageable. I remember saying Don’t do that." As it turns out, Dunne had a bad heart and was living on borrowed time. None of that lessens the shock of his sudden passing for Didion. Although her prodigious skill with the written word is apparent in this memoir, her grief over the loss of her husband is as raw for her as for any of us. Death is the great equalizer. Didion is forced to come to terms with Dunne’s death even as she continues to deal with her daughter’s illness. (In a sad post script, Quintana died just a couple years later from the complications of her illness. There has also been some speculation that Quintanta died, ultimately, of acute pancreatitis caused by alcoholism. She was just 39.) In the early days after Dunne’s death, Didion tries to keep it together. She keeps expecting Dunne to walk through the door; she continues to store information to share with her husband at a later date. She says: “Of course I knew John was dead…Yet I was myself was in no way prepared to accept this news as final: there was a level on which I believed that what had happened remained reversible. That was why I needed to be alone…I needed to be alone so he could come back.” The Year of Magical Thinking is not a romantic memoir. Didion, despite her sorrow, turns a clear, at times even dispassionate, eye on the nature of grief. She’s been trained to do that, of course. Does it lessen the impact of the story she has to tell? Not really. But was I as emotionally engaged as I thought I would be. Not really.
Date published: 2013-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from love it Great book. Simply heartbreaking and thought provoking
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion The Year of Magical Thinking is an uncommon book. It is an important book. With tremendous poignancy and breathtaking reflection Didion brings us into a work of mourning. Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, died 30 December 2003. At the time, her only child Quintana lay unconscious in an intensive care unit at Beth Israel Medical Center. She writes, “This is my attempt to make sense of the period that followed, weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I had ever had about death, about illness, about probability and luck, about good fortune and bad, about marriage and children and memory, about grief, about the ways in which people do and do not deal with the fact that life ends, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself” (7). In 227 pages Didion shares with the reader the contradictory and irrevocable feelings that engulf the bereaved. In my experience, death is not often written about with such candor, grace and insight. It is no doubt her tremendous focus and discipline as a writer that allows her to put into prose the rupture and inconsistencies that surround so many of our “fixed ideas” about death. Moments after John’s death she recalls “thinking that I needed to discuss this with John” (16). She talks about the questions and hopes and the fantasies that we entertain about a lover walking back through the door after having died. She writes about memory and how we reconstruct our identities through the process of mourning. In addition to providing an account of her life with John and Quintana, Didion also reflects on the state of death today . . . especially its invisibility. Given how common death is, she is somewhat shocked to find how out of touch we are with it. What to do when someone dies? What should you say to the bereaved? When should you visit and what should you talk about? What kind of food do you put into their hands? Death is not something we are used to thinking realistically about. Ironically, Didion’s reflections on her gravitation toward magical thoughts are probably as realistic as one will find anywhere. This coming term I will be using Didion’s book in a first year class I teach on the subject. * * * “I tell you that I shall not live two days.” – Gawain (Aries, The Hour of Our Death) “The one more day I love you more than. As you used to say to me” (207)
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful writing This is a raw and real book. After finishing it, I feel connected to the author. Joan Didion writes a very candid account of her grief. This novel could be the gateway to discussing grief with a loved one and/or helping you through the death of a loved one.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Had its moments Given all the hype I had heard about this book, I don't know what I expected - but I expected to initially feel more than I did. However, what I did like about this book was how well Joan conveyed her disjointed, grief-stricken thinking. There were so many moments where her phrasing would reveal that this book was about love as much as it was about her experience of grief. I am glad I read it - those moments where I realized the depth of her love were stunning and for that, I do think this was a meaningful read.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well written So well written....so sad.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Powerful Memoir from a Novelist of Extraordinary Talent When a novelist of extraordinary talent turns this talent toward telling her own very personal story, the result can be magic. Such is the case with this memoir by Joan Didion. In A Year of Magical Thinking, Didion shares with us what life felt like in the year following the unexpected and sudden death of her husband, award-winning writer John Dunne. In simple, elegant, prose we experience the shock, sadness, pain, and emptiness that are essential emotions in a grieving process. But we also experience the eventual healing - if healing means the strength to go on. John Dunne has a sudden heart attack while his wife was preparing dinner. The day Dunne died had already been a very difficult one for they had just left their 33-year-old daughter, their only child, in intensive care struggling for her life. In an instant, an ordinary instant, Didion's life changed forever. In this story which is at once universal and unique, Didion shares what she felt as she faced the days and weeks following Dunne's death. Anyone who has lost some close to them, and everyone who knows that sooner or later this experience will be a part of one's own life, will treasure and be moved by this story. At its very core it reminds us that every day is a gift. You will remember the messages of this book long after you put it down.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from required reading Not a "help me deal with grief", but a "how I dealt with grief". Those of us who have not lost a spouse cannot understand what someone must have to go through in the process of grieving. Ms. Didion gives us some understanding of the process, the introspection and perhaps allows us to more easily understand grief and accept that there is no "normal". Let us hope that we become better listeners to our friends who are travelling through this because we have read Ms. Didion's book.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from very disappointing With all of the publicity and being one of Heather's Picks, I thought it would be better. I have experienced a fair amount of grief and major losses in my life, and I wouldn't say this book helped me. I hope it helped Didion to write it, but it would have probably been better kept as her own diary - not to be shared.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Incoherent Writing This book is about one woman’s grief following the death of her husband, and the illness of her child. I was expecting more from this book due to its popularity, but found it to be quite jumbled and incoherent at times. Since Joan Didion has been a writer for years I would have hoped that her book would have been structured for an easier read. There were sections that had me in tears as I could feel her pain and loss, yet other sections were filled with random thoughts and memories. While this book might have been cathartic for her to write, I didn’t find it that enjoyable to read.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Week of Magical Reading Although I haven't lost somebody like Joan Didion I found this book fascinating. She captured what it is like to go through a death, and truly have thoughts that I would have. Having faced breast cancer myself and the aging and sickness of my own elderly parents in the past year, this book spoke to me. I think about my own mortality and imagine what it will be like when I lose my parents. I felt like the death of Joan's husband and the year that came after was like the death of my own innocence having faced cancer, before the diagnosis, when life was carefree, and everything after. I asked my neighbour who lost her husband last summer if she'd read it. She groaned. She didn't like the book and couldn't get through it. I will read it again, when somone close to me dies and see if it speaks to me in the same way.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantastic A beautifully written book. I learned quite a bit from reading it. Truly a deep and unforgettable love story and an opportunity to really realize what is important in life. Didion is a gifted and rare writer and the reader can feel her pain. I loved this work and highly recommend it.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intellectual Healing Joan Didion is very insightful in her healing memoir. I was trying to understand grief as I have seen it and felt it on a lower scale, but hers is so profound, I could certainly feel hers. She doesn't give any easy answers or advise. She does however, help the observer and friend of a grieving person understand how complicated grief is and that there are no easy answers. Her book also would be very helpful to someone who is personally experiencing grief as it would help them understand that others have been there and can touch on that painful spot. I think this helps when you can know that you are not alone. I recommended this book to a dear friend who lost his wife three years ago and still finds it difficult to cope with at times.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from makes you think! This book is an indepth look at the greiving process and enables the reader to reflect on their own experiences.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from pulsating There was not a calm moment in this book and I think that JD speaks for many who have lost loved ones and are suffering with grief. There is so much in this book. JD and John's close relationship, as best friends and writers in residence. Their 40 year old marriage alone is a miracle. She mentions many times how life can change in a day, over dinner. She witnessed John's last hour and then in the coming year, reflects back, looking for signs that would help her understand his last year. To complicate this grieving is the daughter's precarious health. In fact, the day John died, they had just returned from the ICU visiting their daughter. who had flu>pneumonia>sepsis..Returning home, starting a fire and sitting down to an ordinary dinner was all they could do to keep some stability - some normality in this uncertainty. Grief counselling is part of my work as a pallative nurse. I think that this book would be a good resource for widows, but not for all readers. It is academic in many ways and JD and her husband are existentialists. I'll read it again.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from did not hold my interest very boring, too much jumping around. I, too, experienced a tragic accident and instant death of my husband, I know that the mind does relive the past in segments, however, in writing about it, one would assume the thoughts and words would be more organized. I found it to be depressing and not helpful.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emotional, Through the terrible losses she had to deal with as well as the coma her daughter was in, this author takes you through a journey of a lifetime. You will feel the emotions she felt, and they will ring true within your own world. A must read, especially for those that are reeling from a loss. Also recommending: Song Of Cy by Katlyn Stewart- I bought the E-Book (bought through Whiskey Creek)
Date published: 2013-10-29

– More About This Product –

The Year Of Magical Thinking

Read by Barbara Caruso
by Joan Didion

Format: Audio Book (CD)

Dimensions: 1 pages, 5.62 × 4.96 × 0.83 in

Published: October 6, 2005

Publisher: Highbridge Company

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 159887005x

ISBN - 13: 9781598870053

About the Book

Didion's journalistic skills are displayed as never before in this story of a year in her life that began with her daughter in a medically induced coma and her husband unexpectedly dead due to a heart attack. This powerful and moving work is Didion'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." With vulnerability and passion, Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience of love and loss. THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING will speak directly to anyone who has ever loved a husband, wife, or child.

From the Publisher

Didion''s journalistic skills are displayed as never before in this story of a year in her life that began with her daughter in a medically induced coma and her husband unexpectedly dead due to a heart attack. This powerful and moving work is Didion''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." With vulnerability and passion, Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience of love and loss. THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING will speak directly to anyone who has ever loved a husband, wife, or child.

About the Author

BARBARA CARUSO is an American graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She enjoys a rich acting career which has included Broadway, off Broadway, and many theaters across the country. On those stages she has performed in plays by Shakespeare, Chekov, Williams, O''Neil, and Neil Simon, to name but a few.

Spoken word audio is an important part of that career. Her countless recordings include the works of Edith Wharton, Margaret Atwood, Maeve Binchy, Louisa May Alcott, Willa Cather, and children''s classics. AudioFile magazine has chosen her one of their Voices of the Century. She''s won numerous Earphones Awards, including for her narration of The Year of Magical Thinking (an Audie® Award finalist) and The House of Scorta, both published by HighBridge. She is the recipient of the Alexander Scourby Award, presented by the American Foundation for the Blind.

JOAN DIDION is celebrated in the worlds of journalism, literature, and film. She is the author of seven previous books of nonfiction and five novels. With her late husband, John Gregory Dunne, she wrote many screenplays including The Panic in Needle Park and A Star Is Born. She lives in New York City.

Editorial Reviews

"Can one call an audio performance ravishing? That''s what Barbara Caruso delivers in this perfect marriage of writing and narration."
-AudioFile [Earphones Award Winner]
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