Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

“Will you come home to me on the Smile?”

Didion, sixties counterculture chronicler and maven chronicles the year after the death of her husband with heartbreaking detail and a vivid ability to recollect the hardest parts of life.

This is likely as essential a book for the now withering Baby Boomer generation as was Slouching Towards Bethlehem fifty years ago. It’s a heartbreaking mediation on marriage, aging, and the lonliness of widowdom. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had tears in my eyes and had to stop reading several times.

My good friend KM tells me that the tragic footnote to this tale is that Didion’s daughter, QR, did not actually make it through her illness after all, and died some months after the publication of the book. This makes even the small ray of hope offered at the memior’s conclusion fade out and disappear.

Read this book if you are a Baby Boomer with a spouse. Eventually, one of you will lose the other. The Year of Magical Thinking may help in some small way prepare you.

Read this book if you have parents who are Boomers. You will lose them eventually too.

Read this book if you’re human and care about other people in your life. As another sixties counterculture icon warned us long ago, “No one here gets out alive.” Plan accordingly.

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