From one of our most powerful writers, a work of stunning frankness about losing a daughter. Richly textured with bits of her own childhood and married life with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo, this new book by Joan Didion examines her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding having children, illness, and growing old.
Blue Nights opens on July 26, 2010, as Didion thinks back to Quintana’s wedding in New York seven years before. Today would be her wedding anniversary. This fact triggers vivid snapshots of Quintana’s childhood—in Malibu, in Brentwood, at school in Holmby Hills. Reflecting on her daughter but also on her role as a parent, Didion asks the candid questions any parent might about how she feels she failed, either because cues were not taken or perhaps displaced. “How could I have missed what was clearly there to be seen?” Finally, perhaps we all remain unknown to each other. Seamlessly woven in are incidents Didion sees as underscoring her own age, something she finds hard to acknowledge, much less accept.
Blue Nights—the long, light evening hours that signal the summer solstice, “the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but also its warning”—like The Year of Magical Thinking before it, is an iconic book of incisive and electric honesty, haunting and profoundly moving.
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The extreme emphasis on celebrity name-dropping, place name-dropping, and privilege. It seems the real story is short and sad, and that the stage-setting and background was about the wealthy environment Quintana had grown up in. It felt shallow.
I will review my choices more carefully.
I came to this book with high expectations because I enjoyed A Year of Magical Thinking. I have read and enjoyed almost everything else that Joan Didion has written, and will try to not let this experience influence future choices.
- Avid Reader
Extremely moving memoir, well-narrated
- Doggy Bird "Avid reader of classics and fiction, history and well-written genre novels. Music lover and huge audiobook fan."