A New York Times Notable Book and National Bestseller
From one of our most powerful writers, a work of stunning frankness about losing a daughter.
Richly textured with memories from her own childhood and married life with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo, this new book by Joan Didion is an intensely personal and moving account of her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding having children, illness and growing old.
As she reflects on her daughter’s life and on her role as a parent, Didion grapples with the candid questions that all parents face, and contemplates her age, something she finds hard to acknowledge, much less accept. Blue Nights—the long, light evening hours that signal the summer solstice, “the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but also its warning”—like The Year of Magical Thinking before it, is an iconic book of incisive and electric honesty, haunting and profound.
"Incantory.... A beautiful condolance note to humanity about some of the painful realities of the human condition." —The Washington Post
Loss has pursued author Didion relentlessly, and in this subtly crushing memoir about the untimely death of her daughter, Quintana Roo (1966 2005), coming on the heels of The Year of Magical Thinking, which chronicled the sudden death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, Didion again turns face forward to the harsh truth. "When we talk about mortality we are talking about our children," she writes, groping her way backward through painful memories of Quintana Roo's life, from her recent marriage in 2003 to adorable moments of childhood moving about California in the 1970s with her worldly parents and learning early on cues about how to grow up fast. While her parents were writing books, working on location for movies, and staying in fancy hotels, Quintana Roo developed "depths and shallows," as her mother depicts in her elliptically dark fashion, later diagnosed as "borderline personality disorder"; while Didion does not specify what exactly caused Quintana's repeated hospitalizations and coma at the end of her life, the author seems to suggest it was a kind of death wish, about which Didion feels guilt, not having heeded the signs early enough. Her own health she writes at age 75 is increasingly frail, and she is obsessed with falling down and being an invalid. Yet Didion continually demonstrates her keen survival instincts, and her writing is, as ever, truculent and mesmerizing, scrutinizing herself as mercilessly as she stares down death.
Lovely. Beautifully written. Moving. Sad. Lovely.
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Probably the most honest book I have ever read, next to the Bible. Thank you for this book and for it changing my life. I will come back to your introductory pages the way I come back to Graham Greene's collection of short stories book when I need inspiration -- and so should you the potential reader and buyer. What Graham Greene is to short stories this book is to honesty and the best writing you can read. Reading this book and all its tragedy makes me imagine Shakespeare was a woman? Because only a woman could be tragic, brilliant and honest all at the same time and that's what this book achieves. It's Shakespeare for parents and grieving. Again, thank you for this book. Finally, this book will make you realize your humanity and all the flaws of life -- the beautiful, baffling flaws. I hope every reader is moved by reading this book as much as I was.
Affecting and moving. Frustrating sometimes, as listening to an older person tell THEIR story can be. Soak this in. She is not writing to entertain, but to do her best to tell something real.