Category: nonfiction, memoir, grief
Synopsis: Didion tells about her mourning period after her adult daughter dies.
Date finished: 3 April 2013
For the first time, I have no idea what to say in my review of a book. Plain and simple, to critique this book, I believe, is to critique how it’s written. And Didion’s writing? Not so much my style. It’s part stream-of-consciousness, part academic, and almost entirely affected. I found it distant, disconnected, unpleasantly dark, with a tone that suggests mental illness. It’s coherent, but the way it weaves certain phrases through the entire book, from one chapter to the next, although a nice literary device, feels ominous, oppressive. I read her Year of Magical Thinking when it came out, and I didn’t care much for that either. I just reread a portion of it, and it is similar in writing. I’ve not read her other nonfiction to compare. Perhaps this is her style, why she’s so highly regarded as a writer. To me, the writing is just unpleasant.
Beyond the writing, I found her insistence that her daughter know that Didion and her husband needed her—not loved her, but needed her—disturbing. She used the word over and over. I don’t recall the word “love” appearing once.
Would you recommend this to a friend?