The Pequod Review:
Joan Didion reached new heights as a writer with The Year of Magical Thinking, a short but intense memoir recounting the 2003 death of her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne. The book is at times painfully sad, but there is a purpose and intimacy to Didion’s writing that was so crucially missing from her earlier fiction:
Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe their husband is about to return and need his shoes.
Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.