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The Crack Magazine

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Book of the Month - The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Joan Didion’s account of the year she lost her husband, John Dunne, is invaluable for anyone who has loved someone close to them. Since the world lost Didion in December, it has become even more essential. When the most common responses to bereavement are discomfort or fluffy platitudes about your loved one being ‘in a better place’, an account of grief that feels true is worth its weight in gold. And who writes the truth better than Joan Didion? Whether it was journalism, fiction or memoir, you understood that she saw the whole picture clearly. This is what makes her portrayal of grief in this memoir so engaging: grief, as an experience, is illogical. You feel as if you could have prevented the event; you berate yourself for not seeing it coming and maybe you even believe, under the right circumstances, that you could bring the person back. Didion observes her grief in all its delusion and conveyed it as artfully as she did any other subject. Didion described rereading her husband’s personal and published writing, learning new things about the person she had spent forty years with. When most people die, we don’t have decade’s worth of their writing to keep them alive — thankfully, Didion left us with this gift. MG

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