General Book Details
It was with the expectation of infinite sadness I started Blue Nights. I don’t like biographies, at least of the living, knowing so much, however biased, about someone leaves me arid. Yet 2005’s The Year of Magical Thinking, its Spartan beauty, stark and essential pain, compelled me to read Blue Nights. It was meant to be about the death of Didion’s daughter, Quintana Roo. It is about far more: Mortality and memory, the life left behind and the life departed. Can you assess the life, let alone the death, of someone vital to your existence? What spaces are left vacant in their passing?
Death and mourning doesn’t make for happy reading, but when difficult and piercing subject matter is written about with such skill and honesty it offers us a companionship and capacity for reflection that we can take with us into our own lives when we ourselves are confronted with pain and loss.
How can I convince you that this is vital reading? This act of remembrance and re-visitation of experience, all reconsidered and weighed with a yearning, heartfelt intellectual struggle to understand, will tear and heal something in you. Didion has created, through an evocation of memory, an aching, hopeful revocation of mortality. It is an incantation, beautiful and staggeringly complete, of a life. The wonder of it is that, in the end, I didn’t know whose: Didion’s or her daughters. They are inseparable.