AN ORDINARY INSTANT | THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, Barbara Caruso (Narrator),

Audiobook, 6 pages, Published October 6th 2005 by Highbridge Company (first published September 1st 2005)


SYNOPSIS:

From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: 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.


Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later–the night before New Year’s Eve–the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma.


This powerful book is Didion’ s attempt to make sense of the “weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness . . . about marriage and children and memory . . . about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.”


SPOTTED, xoxo:

S3: E11, S6: E15

S3: E11 Paris discusses commencement speakers with Rory for Chilton's upcoming graduation ceremony and compares the flippant responses from her fellow classmates.

PARIS: Have you looked over the votes for commencement speaker? RORY: Yeah. PARIS: Are the ones for Princess Diana’s butler jokes or real? RORY: I’d say jokes. PARIS: What about the ones for Dr. Phil? RORY: I think real. PARIS: I knew that suggestion box was a bad idea. Watch Choate get Joan Didion while we’re being read Eloise at the Plaza.


S6: E15 As Valentine's Day approaches, Rory and Logan invite Luke and Lorelai to spend a weekend with them at Logan's family's house on Martha's Vineyard. Luke and Lorelai begin settling in, and Rory and Logan resume their normal activities. The two Gilmore girls are adjusting to the idea that "These could be the ones, the ones, you know." Throughout the episode, Lorelai witnesses a less flattering side of Luke, and the Huntzberger dynasty puts a halt to Rory and Logan's plans for their immediate future.

PROP PLACEMENT:

At the time of Season 3's air date in 2002, Joan Didion had not yet written The Year of Magical Thinking, but it is clear that ASP admired her work. Here, Paris compares Joan Didion as the clear winner in a high/low comparison to the reading of a children's novel about a wily, rich child for their commencement speaker prospects. While not an actual reference to the book listed here, this is another nod to the high regard held for Joan Didion in the script writing.


Season 6 debuted in Fall 2005, the year that Joan Didion's work would have been newly published. We regularly see Rory reading best-selling memoirs, and this would have been picked up as recreational reading. ASP exemplifies a clear opinion of strong female figures, and most likely placed this in the series because the Gilmore girls are inclined towards the same. Perhaps a strange read for a romantic weekend, but it shows Rory's interests and focus nonetheless. A deeper read into the episode, this book placement could represent defying their better logic in both the Gilmore women's relationships. Rory and Logan had plans to travel through Asia during the Summer, and Luke and Lorelai are attempting to resolve the postponement of their wedding. Logan's father is forcing him to face his responsibilities and take over the family business with a job in London after graduation. Luke is creating a relationship with his newly discovered daughter and building a dividing wall with Lorelai in the process. The book placement here exemplifies outside occurrences becoming a reality that neither women can wrap their heads around or are willing to accept.


BOOKMARKS:

"Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends." - Chapter 1


"Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant." - Chapter 1


“Time is the school in which we learn. ” - Chapter 14

PAGE TURNERS:

I'll be honest in saying this book does not have you grabbing the pages wanting to know what happens next. I believe that the title keeps you wondering and waiting for a hint of the magical thinking that never comes. You stay curious that she may perchance put the shoe that seemed to drop back on her foot. However, the entirety of the book discusses just that, you're never able to put a lost shoe back on.


WHAT THE WHAT?:

Joan Didion, as late as 2005, changed how people wrote about death and overcoming grief. Her poignant memoir was a best-selling book and won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2005 and was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2007, an adaptation of her book was made for Broadway and ran for 24 weeks. It has continued through different theaters and now has adaptations all over the world.


During the promotion of this novel, Joan's daughter, Quintana, died of acute pancreatitis in New York in August of 2005. Instead of editing or retracting this book, Joan Didion wrote of this experience in one of her following memoirs, Blue Nights, in 2011.


CARO'S RATING: 3 of 5 STARS

Joan Didion is a fantastic author. As a written memoir, I imagine this book to be truly therapeutic in the expression of her grief. Reading the book myself, I found her stream-of-consciousness writing style to be easily read but more so a diary than a grand, magical turn of thought. However, I did appreciate the reiteration of certain phrases showing her gained clarity from the previous mentions throughout the novel.


I suspect this book would give someone who is treading through their own grief a descriptive haven of words of which they may not know how to speak themselves. I found it to be rightfully scientific and the emotions explained articulately, which is most likely the only way grief can be described, somewhat detached. I hope to never understand the deepness of emotion and "cognitive disability" or "tenuous sanity" that she describes, but we all meet death at some point, and this book would be of great resonance through that personal grief.

CHEEKY EXTRAS:

The Official Site of Joan Didion

How (Not) to Talk to Joan Didion

Buzzfeed: The 14 Most Eye-Opening Quotes by Joan Didion

The Guardian: 100 Best Non-fiction Books: No. 2


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