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The Year of Magical Thinking


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/ Key title From one of America's iconic writers, a portrait of a marriage and a life -- in good times and bad -- that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child. A stunning book of electric honesty and passion. / The hardback version of 'The Year of Magical Thinking' was a New York Times bestseller throughout autumn 2005, and received over 14 Book of the Year nominations. / A powerful and devastatingly honest book of a family coping with love, life and death. / Over 13,000 hardback copies sold to date in the UK. / 'The Year of Magical Thinking' won America's National Book Award. / Backed by a major nationwide consumer campaign including outdoor and stunning full colour press ads in women's glossy monthly titles.

About the Author

Joan Didion is one of America's most respected writers, her work constituting some of the greatest portraits of modern-day American culture. Over the four decades of her career, she has produced widely-acclaimed journalistic essays, personal essays, novels, non-fiction, memoir and screenplays. Her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking won the National Book Award in 2005.


In her latest work of nonfiction, essayist, novelist, journalist, and screenwriter Didion (Slouching Towards Bethlehem) chronicles the grief she suffered at her husband's passing. John Gregory Dunne's unexpected death of cardiac arrest in the winter of 2003 ended a marriage of nearly 40 years, and Didion examines her complicated responses to that loss, which included subtle forms of denial, illogical guilt, and a drive to get the facts of his passing absolutely straight. Her grieving process was interrupted and magnified by her daughter's concurrent struggle with a life-threatening illness. This book was started nine months after John's death and after their daughter's recovery, but before Didion was able to move past these traumatic events and continue with her own life. Consequently, the predominant atmosphere is one of authentic suspense that makes for a remarkable page-turner. As always, Didion's writing style is sheer and highly efficient. Strongly recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/05.]-Maria Kochis, California State Univ., Sacramento Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

'It is the most awesome performance of both participating in, and watching, an event. Even though Didion does not allow herself to break down, only a terribly controlled reader will resist doing the same.' John Freeman, Independent 'Ultimately, and unexpectedly for a book about illness and death, this is a wonderfully life affirming book.' Lisa O'Kelly, Observer 'Searing, informative and affecting. Don't leave life without it.' Financial Times 'This is a beautiful and devastating book by one of the finest writers we have. Didion has always been a precise, humane and meticulously truthful writer, but on the subject of death she becomes essential.' Zadie Smith 'Taking the reader to places where they would not otherwise go is one of the things a really good book can do. "The Year of Magical Thinking" does just that, and brilliantly. Powerful, moving and true.' Cressida Connolly, Spectator 'A great book, a great work. Angular, exact, pressured and tough, precise as a diamond drill bit.' Nick Laird 'Didion's famously sparse, honed, almost brittle prose spells out an anguish which is universal. Her book, exploring an agonising universal experience, will speak to and maybe comfort anyone who has lost for ever the one they loved.' Val Hennesy, Critics Choice, Daily Mail 'Cool has been Didion's literary trademark, but this brave book maps a year in her life when the world flipped over to expose the underside of cool where things go bad.' The Times

Many will greet this taut, clear-eyed memoir of grief as a long-awaited return to the terrain of Didion's venerated, increasingly rare personal essays. The author of Slouching Towards Bethlehem and 11 other works chronicles the year following the death of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, from a massive heart attack on December 30, 2003, while the couple's only daughter, Quintana, lay unconscious in a nearby hospital suffering from pneumonia and septic shock. Dunne and Didion had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years, and Dunne's death propelled Didion into a state she calls "magical thinking." "We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss," she writes. "We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes." Didion's mourning follows a traditional arc-she describes just how precisely it cleaves to the medical descriptions of grief-but her elegant rendition of its stages leads to hard-won insight, particularly into the aftereffects of marriage. "Marriage is not only time: it is also, paradoxically, the denial of time. For forty years I saw myself through John's eyes. I did not age." In a sense, all of Didion's fiction, with its themes of loss and bereavement, served as preparation for the writing of this memoir, and there is occasionally a curious hint of repetition, despite the immediacy and intimacy of the subject matter. Still, this is an indispensable addition to Didion's body of work and a lyrical, disciplined entry in the annals of mourning literature. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. 60,000 first printing; 11-city author tour. (Oct. 19) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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