She knows : " It may seem strange to find his consolation in a book on mourning and grief. "When The World asked Monica Sabolo, during the pandemic, what was his bedside book, the author of Summer has mentioned The Year of magical thinking, the American Joan Didion. She pointed out that he used sometimes to stop at the first lines, as we can be dazzled by a beam of bright light : "life changes fast. The life changes in the instant. You are about to dinner and life as we know it stops. The question of self-pity. "
In The Year of magical thinking, the "book of the year 2006" in the United States, won the National Book Award, Joan Didion recounts the year when she lost her husband and where her daughter has been diving in the coma. The writer tries to escape into the "magical thinking" while we, the readers, remain in the analysis unrelenting grief. Monica Sabolo is right. The story conveys an incredible amount of force. The strength of the gift in the sharing of universal experience, in the love indestructible a couple, in the scripture as the safeguard against the madness.
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at the End of December 2003. Writers Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne have been married for forty years. They come back from the hospital, where the girl is diving in a coma following pneumonia, and are on the point of sit at the table. John Gregory Dunne is in his chair as usual, near the fireplace. He drinks a scotch, and then reads the tests from the book by David Fromkin. Then he was the victim of a heart attack. The rescue, the hospital, the death.
Rationality and "magical thinking"
Joan Didion is an intellectual. It is rational. The writer will yet survive, during a year, by putting in place a magical thinking. Joan Didion is waiting John Gregory Dunne returns. She refuses to give up his shoes. If he returned, he would need his shoes to go out into the world. She realizes the absurdity of the thought, but the fact that she is aware of it does not go away. From the outside she looks "normal" for a woman who just lost her husband. Inside, she awaits the return of her husband and is afraid no longer find the reason. Because it is indeed his goal, as her husband returns. With the death of John Gregory Dunne, Joan Didion is, for the first time in his life, the intimate experience of absurdity.
Read, learn, review, go to the texts. To know is to control.
Joan Didion writes : "When times are difficult, had I been taught since childhood, read, learn, revise, goes to the text. To know is to control. "She wants to understand. She reads Freud, Melanie Klein, C. s. Lewis, Thomas Mann, Matthew Arnold, Philippe Ariès. Novelists, psychiatrists, poets, historians, socioanthropologues. "Read, learn, review, go to the texts. To know is to control. "She had confidence in his ability to control events, until the death of her husband. John Gregory Dunne advised him often : "For once in your life, let it go. "Joan Didion is forced to let go, as it does not control too much. Read helps it to live ? Joan Didion shows how to read and reason are not used for anything at the time, but helps to live after stroke. Once the shock had passed, it is time to rethink the past. The pain is circumscribed.
Write on reality. In the Face of death, she said, the ordinary and the extraordinary.
The author of Democracy deals with the memories with caution, as small shards of glass cutting. The memories come with their joys and their mistakes. There are a multitude of unsettling, in The Year of magical thinking. Joan Didion for example, it does not have a letter from John Gregory Dunne. She had never realized. They have not sent letters, because they have hardly ever been separated. They are working together, at home, all the time. Find the daily, so it is find writing. John Gregory Dunne died on December 30, 2003, at the age of 71 years. Joan Didion began writing The Year of magical thinking on the afternoon of October 4, 2004. His daughter will die August 26, 2005, less than two years after her husband. The writer narrate the drama in the Blue of the night, in 2011. Joan Didion writes not to find any meaning for the dramas, there is no meaning to find, but for what it can do, since always. Write on reality. In the Face of death, she said, the ordinary and the extraordinary.
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The Englishman Geoffrey Gorer explains, in Neither crying nor crowns (1965), the modern tendency not to expose grief in public so as not to spoil the pleasure of others in society. It is common to witness his "admiration society" to the grieving people who are not in their state of grief. They would show modesty, courage, continuing as if nothing had happened. Joan Didion is not as if nothing had happened. She can't, for one simple reason : it has happened something. The fabric of time was torn. The writer renders his inability to overcome the grief and to resume the course of his ordinary days. The phrases accurately analyze a year in which she has held in waiting for the return of those who do would be more. The narrative bears witness in itself to the vitality of the writing. Joan Didion finds the path of reason by means of words. From the beginning to the end, we are in the literature : Monica Sabolo the bed and there is a life force. It closes the story and is remembered as Joan Didion, from the words of John Gregory Dunne when they were swimming together and had to face the swell. Changes occur and we must adapt.
The Year of magical thinking, by Joan Didion, trad. Pierre Demarty, Grasset, 300 pages, 19,20 euros.