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The Year of Magical Thinking. (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 4. September 2006

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'It is the most awesome performance of both participating in, and watching, an event. Even though Didion does not allow herself to break down, only a terribly controlled reader will resist doing the same.' John Freeman, Independent 'Ultimately, and unexpectedly for a book about illness and death, this is a wonderfully life affirming book.' Lisa O'Kelly, Observer 'Searing, informative and affecting. Don't leave life without it.' Financial Times 'This is a beautiful and devastating book by one of the finest writers we have. Didion has always been a precise, humane and meticulously truthful writer, but on the subject of death she becomes essential.' Zadie Smith 'Taking the reader to places where they would not otherwise go is one of the things a really good book can do. "The Year of Magical Thinking" does just that, and brilliantly. Powerful, moving and true.' Cressida Connolly, Spectator 'A great book, a great work. Angular, exact, pressured and tough, precise as a diamond drill bit.' Nick Laird


From one of America's iconic writers, this is 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. This is a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill. At first they thought it was flu, then pneumonia, then complete sceptic 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 suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of 40 years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LA airport, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Centre 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'.

The result is an exploration of an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage, and a life, in good times and bad.

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Format: Taschenbuch
I picked up this book at my local Oxfam shop and wondered at myself for actually being interested in reading about death and grief. It's not as if I was unfamiliar with it and so why would I want to read about it after surviving two such mind-numbing experiences? Anybody who has lost anybody knows exactly what Ms Didion is talking about although the death of a life-long partner and probably a child are likely to be in a class of their own. So it was not experience I was hoping to gain. I as an avid reader hunt for technical mastery and an authenticity that touches the soul in what I read. If it hasn't got it, I put it down and discard it forever. In the case of this book, I forced myself to take it slowly, savouring each chapter for its perfect pitch, clear-sighted honesty and its confirmation of life despite the constant grappling with death and its consequences. It is just so frighteningly well constructed and researched and I thank Ms Didion for finishing the piece and setting it free. I lent my copy to a good friend knowing he appreciates good literature, too, but I want it because I suspect I will want to read it again and again as I grow older.
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Die Verführbarkeit zum magischen Denken wie auch dessen Dekonstruktion gelingt Joan Didion in ihrem erstaunlich offen autobiographischem Buch. Wie hält man sich die Erinnerung an einen geliebten Menschen warm, wie bleibt sie intim, wenn zugleich über diese Beziehung, den Tod und die Verlassenheit Auskunft gegeben werden soll? Joan Didion ist in ihren frühen Theaterstücken und Essays noch stärker. Aber auch im Jahr des magischen Denkens gelingt ihr das Bekenntnis zu Liebe und Ratlosigkeit ohne Larmoyanz. Ein bißchen peinlich ist es in manchen Passagen, aber nur, weil es weh tut - auch dem empathischen Leser. Das bestärkt die Bewunderung für ihren Mut.
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If someone who you loved just died recently it might be very helpful to read this book. To gain insight into your own feelings and dealings - and to know that you are not alone in "magical" or any other kind of thinking which you will experience in grief.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.9 von 5 Sternen 1.070 Rezensionen
742 von 775 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Deserves to become a classic memoir about grief and loss 6. Oktober 2005
Von Kcorn - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I stayed up almost all might just to finish reading it, unable to put this down, although I confess I had to keep a box of tissues nearby. I've lost 5 people in the last few years and, just recently, another friend and so I related very strongly to this book.

Didion's unflinching account of the sudden loss of her husband (which occurred while their only child was in a coma in a hospital (!)) deserves to be a classic in the genre of books written by and for those who are grieving. It is hard to find books like this, which are both honest but not overly sentimental, not resorting to the tropes which seem to surround death. She doesn't offer vague platitudes or advice. She simply relates her very personal experience, including the inevitable vulnerability, unexpected moments of being blindsided by memories and sudden tears, etc.

She covers all the bases, including the kind of insanity that can seize one in the throes of grief, those moments when you forget the person is actually dead, when you turn to speak to him or her as you normally would at a certain part of the day or reach for the phone to share the latest news.

The book is raw. If you're looking for religous or spiritual guidance and inspiration, this is not the book for you. As Didion herself noted, writing about the book recently, it was intentionally written "raw". I assume she didn't want to wait, to distance herself from the intensity of the experience as she wrote it down, quite unlike many other books she has written. Raw or not, it wasn't sloppy, overly sentimental or complete despairing.

It was simply honest, heartwrenchingly so, and Didion doesn't deviate from communicating, in absolute striking detail, the sense of alienation and disorientation that separates mourners from those who seem to be living "normal" lives. Grief is its own territory, separate from so-called normalcy. In so many ways, it is an illness, an affliction of the spirit and not one that can be cured in any one way.

An aside- the photo of Didion inside the dustjacket is haunting. No question that those are the eyes of someone who has been scraped to the core, wounded and, presumably, still recovering. There is something beautiful in that portrait and, oddly, comforting. It is the face of a survivor, however hard it might be to live as one.

This book will remain on my bookshelf and I expect I'll be thumbing through it for solace time and again. Reading it was both painful and cathartic and strangely comforting, with an intensity that left me awestruck. I am still amazed that she was able to produce such a beautifully written book in the throes of so much pain.
524 von 553 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Don't hate me, but 15. November 2005
Von J. R. SOUTH - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I'm not 100% sure why I bought this book. Certainly, the extremely generous reviews were a big push, as much as the fact that I recognize that Joan Didion is a superb writer. Maybe more than that, because I lost my mother and my grandmother within a very short span of time, and they lost their brother/son, then father/husband, in an even briefer time period. For awhile, "Magical Thinking" enthralled me with Didion's honesty and brutal detail. It even gave me nightmares, which I'm sure was not the author's intention, but that's how effective the writing is.

Part of Joan Didion's truthfulness is in dealing with her own avoidance of grief, and the extent to which an extremely intelligent, ever-thinking person will go to escape facing pain. But halfway through this short book, only 105 pages from the end, I almost gave it up, and I'm not sure I'm glad that I didn't. The endless facts, medical explanations, and most of all, Joan's continuous detachment from any emotion, left me feeling beat up and worn down. Yes, it even annoyed me a little. I give her all the credit in the world for approaching her task. Her love for her husband and daughter is extraordinarily apparent by the picture she paints of them, but she still comes through as only an observer. "The Year of Magical Thinking" is written in the first person, but not for a split second do we get a glimpse of any sensitivity coming from her. She only looks, thinks, and writes. But who is Joan, and what is going on inside her? Anything at all??

Buddhists have a valuable outlook on death. They meditate on it regularly, often among the bodies of the departed. Not viewed as morbid or surprising, death informs them how to appreciate life. In the West, we are always stunned by death, and instead of being always ready to accept it, by being kind to one another, knowing how quickly and unexpectedly a lifetime ends, we spend all our energy denying its existence, even after we've lost someone we love. And now we have a bestseller that tells all, except that it's normal and right to feel the pain.

Whatever else this book might be, it is definitely NOT a thesis on how best to deal with death and tragedy. And despite all the praise, "Magical Thinking" will not be everyone's cup of tea.
632 von 695 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Magical Thinking of Denial 8. Oktober 2005
Von prisrob - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
"Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss. Although conventionaly focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has a physical, cognitive, behavioural, social and philosophical dimensions." Wikipedia

Joan Didion starts her book:
"Life changes fast
Life changes in an instant
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends."

On December 30, 2003 Joan and her husband, John Gregory Dunne were just sitting down to dinner about 9pm. They had returned from visiting their daughter, Quintana, who was comatose in an ICU in New York City. They were having a conversation as Joan put dinner on the table. She looked up, it was very quiet, John was not responding. He was slumped over the table with his hand raised. She realized all was not well, and in that instant her life changed. An ambulance was called; the trip to the Emergency Department, the meeting with the doctor, massive heart attack mentioned, and she knew her husband was dead. She returned home alone, did a few chores and went to bed and slept soundly. She awakened and realized something was wrong, and her first taste of grief descended.

Joan Didion has written a devastating story of her first year after the death of her husband, and the grief that enveloped her. She writes as she thought, and the story is laid out in detail as it happened and in her own words. She has friends and family but John isn't there. She talked to him every day for the forty years they were married. They talked constantly and were with each other all the time. Even though conventional wisdom has it that absence makes the heart grow fonder. She remembers thinking "there is no one to hear the news, no where to go with the unmade plan, the uncompleted thought. There is no one to agree, disagree, talk back". Life changes in an instant. There is no place on earth to go where there is no memory. She kept expecting him to come back. She couldn't get rid of his shoes, because he needed shoes to come back. She knew this thought was irrational, but it kept her going.

She kept busy helping her daughter and son-in-law put their life back together, and then it comes apart when Quintana becomes ill again. There is much to do, much to read about Quintana's illness, much to discuss with the hospital staff that look at her strangely when she discusses edema and too much "fluid overload". She immerses herself in the language of medicine, and it keeps her busy for a while. She tried new projects, nothing really works except time, but she still keeps expecting John to come home. He never does. She remembers all the little things he said about his life. He told her they had to go to Paris that November because he might never have the chance again. He was right. He was frequently right. And, oh, she misses him, she always will. Magnificent story of the year in the life of grief. Highly recommended. prisrob
25 von 25 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Privately Grieving Publicly... 28. Mai 2007
Von Angelia Vernon Menchan - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
The Year of Magical Thinking a Play by Joan Didion is based on her memoir. This play gives you a voyeuristic journey inside a woman's grief. Ms. Didion, a noted author and playwright lost her husband in 2003. Within a short period of time, less than two years later, she would also lose her daughter. That kind of loss is unimaginable to most people. We all have experiences with losing loved-ones, but rarely two in such a short span of time. Ms. Didion's prose is written quite sparely and almost from a distance but it is no less wrenching. She appears to view her pain from a distance while feeling the full impact of it.

The play starts out with this passage; This happened on December 30, 2003. That may seem a while ago but it won't when it happens to you. And it will happen to you. The details will be different, but it will happen to you. That's what I am here to tell you. I felt those words down in my very being. Though the words were simple, they were poignant, heartfelt and oh so true. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one will feel the impact of her prose.

After her husband John Dunne passes, Joan appears to be in a state of suspended expectation. The most difficult thing for her to accept is that he is not coming home. In fact for many weeks she expects him to return. It's sad to read how hard it is to accept her lost.

Shortly thereafter when her daughter becomes ill, she has something else to be concerned with. She immerses herself in research about her daughter's illness to try to fill the void in her life. It is wrenching yet dispassionate in so many ways reading about her daughter's illness and ultimate demise. Ms. Didion has exposed her love and pain in an amazing way.

In sixty-two pages this play takes us through a roller coaster of feelings. What impacted me so was how the words were never overwrought, but so strongly felt. I loved the way she evaluated the relationship she had with both her husband and her daughter. The simple what-if-onlys. The Year of Magical Thinking allowed me to realize there is no set way to grieve and that we all react differently. I recommend this play and the aforementioned memoir to Joan Didion fans and to anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one.
Angelia Menchan
36 von 39 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Where's the Love? 14. Februar 2006
Von Aalea1 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
A memoir is a very personal thing and I hesitate to criticize so I will tread lightly. Joan Didion has suffered and appears to have written her story while still in shock. It is flat, too cerebral to elicit any emotion from the reader. I know grief manifests uniquely in each one of us and there is no right way or wrong way to go through the process, but I wonder why there is very little positive written about the subject of the book? Joan Didion's memories of John are harsh, not many compliments scattered about. No talk of love, just need. The year was her process and her feelings but everything so revolved around her that the others were just lost. You don't close the last page with feelings of loss because you never really got to know the characters. There wasn't any depth and Ms. Didion earns the hospital's description of a "cool customer."

We learn of all the horrors of Quintana's illness, go through the day to day, the technical and medical but then it just drops off without a note of conclusion. We learn what Joan consistently eats for breakfast and her inability to stay in a certain hotel which holds strong memories but she abandons us as far as Quintana's recovery is concerned. She drops off at the Rusk Institute and never returns. '"The Year of Magical Thinking" focuses on the bad, the tragedy, death, her emptiness, and then it ends. We learn through the interviews given on the book tour of Quintana's passing about a year after the book was written but when "A Year of Magical Thinking" ends, no mention of Quintana at all. I felt cheated somehow, wanting to hear of some news, some recollection, closure but the reader is denied.

Many of us recall the most pleasant memories when a loved one dies, usually to the detriment of the truth. Joan Didion seems to focus more on John's character flaws as a way of dealing with her loss. He comes across as down right cold at times and maybe just a little bit nasty. I kept with this until the end but after finishing, wish I hadn't.
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