In email, a regular correspondent named Paul puts in a good word for Joan Didion’s forthcoming Year of Magical Thinking, “a meditation on the death of her husband”:
It’s not my usual bag but [someone] persuaded me to read it and God, does this ring true — I imagine anyone who ever had to deal with grief, loss, guilt & callous doctors can find some resonance in this book. I don’t know if it will replace A Grief Observed as the standard on the subject, but for those of us more likely to get angry rather than lapse into self-pity in those circumstances, it might be the better choice.
Last month Susanna Rustin looked back over Didion’s career, quoting endorsements from Zoe Heller and Martin Amis (whose take is fairly patronizing, actually, when you get right down to it). Rustin included a few brief remarks from Didion about her husband’s unexpected death and her decision to write about the grief that followed:
I started realising that I had gone a little crazy at some point in the summer, but I didn’t actually work until October. I’d been taking notes because so much of the year had involved dealing with medical terms that I wanted to get right, so I decided to sit down and write a short book. The idea was to finish it so that it would still be raw on the [the anniversary of the] day after John had died, December 30. I finished this book on the 31st.