Joan Didion has long been considered one of America's foremost writers of nonfiction and essay. She shows why once again with The Year of Magical Thinking, her account of the death of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, and her struggles throughout the following year to cope with her grief. Didion's efforts to mourn are complicated by the life-threatening illness of her newly-wed daughter Quintana. Heartbreakingly, Quintana, Didion and Dunne's only child, also passed away although her death occurred after the events chronicled in Didion's memoir.
Didion's memoir captivates not because she tugs at the reader's sympathies. Indeed, although one 's heart goes out to Didion, one never feels sorry for her. Instead, Didion impresses with her unflinching honesty about her relationship with her husband and her reaction to his death. That Didion could turn her searing analytical powers inward upon herself during one of the most difficult periods of her life is a testament to her skills as a writer and thinker. The result is a gripping read, one that pulls the reader in both because of its universality in dealing with a common human experience and its portrayal of Didion as a unique individual who is simultaneously strong and fragile in the face of death. Destined to be a classic in the memoir genre.