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Jonathan Campbell
Jonathan Campbell

The Year Of Magical Thinking


The book follows Didion's reliving and reanalysis of her husband's death throughout the year following it, in addition to caring for Quintana. With each replay of the event, the focus on certain emotional and physical aspects of the experience shifts. Didion also incorporates medical and psychological research on grief and illness into the book.




The Year of Magical Thinking



The title of the book refers to magical thinking in the anthropological sense, thinking that if a person hopes for something enough or performs the right actions then an unavoidable event can be averted. Didion reports many instances of her own magical thinking, particularly the story in which she cannot give away Dunne's shoes, as he would need them when he returned.[4] The experience of insanity or derangement that is part of grief is a major theme, about which Didion was unable to find a great deal of existing literature.[5]


Didion wrote The Year of Magical Thinking between October 4 and December 31, 2004, completing it a year and a day after Dunne died.[6] Notes she made during Quintana's hospitalizations became part of the book.[7] Quintana Roo Dunne Michael died of pancreatitis on August 26, 2005, before the book's publication, but Didion did not revise the manuscript.[8] Instead she devoted a second book, Blue Nights, to her daughter's death.[9]


On March 29, 2007, Didion's adaptation of her book for Broadway, directed by David Hare, opened with Vanessa Redgrave as the sole cast member. The play expands upon the memoir by dealing with Quintana's death. It ran for 24 weeks at the Booth Theatre in New York City and the following year Redgrave reprised her role to largely positive reviews at London's National Theatre.[14] This production was set to tour the world, including Salzburg, Athens, Dublin Theatre Festival, Bath and Cheltenham.[15] The play was also performed in the Sydney Theatre Company's 2008 season, starring Robyn Nevin and directed by Cate Blanchett.[16]


Just weeks after her daughter Quintana lapsed into a coma, Joan Didion's husband of nearly 40 years -- novelist John Gregory Dunne -- suffered a fatal heart attack at their dining room table. Didion's book about their lives together and her life now is called The Year of Magical Thinking. She tells Susan Stamberg how she adjusted to the loss of her husband in 2003 and her daughter two years later.


The Year of Magical Thinking is a masterpiece in two genres: memoir and investigative journalism. The subject of the memoir is the year after the sudden death of the writer's husband. The target of the investigation, though, is the nature of folly and time. The writer attends to details, assembles a chronology, and asks hard questions of the witnesses, most notably herself. But she imagines that the story she tells can be revised, the world righted, her husband returned, alive. What she offers is an unflinching journey into intimacy and grief.


These are the stages of normal grief. People go through them at their own pace and cope with each phase how they know best. It can take months to several years to heal from the disastrous effects of such losses, but eventually, normal grief alleviates.


This is just one moment in an evening of many moments that makes the script for "Magical Thinking" so brilliant, and it would have to be, of course, for how else could anyone sit in the theater for more than an hour and a half, listening to one woman talk about how the two people closest to her died within a space of a year. Not by chance, the fact that Vanessa Redgrave plays Didion is what makes it all possible.


This luminous actor, with her glistening sky-blue eyes, keeps the audience at the edge of their seats, breath held, for the entire time as she relates the sequence of events, and pathways of her thinking, in their most exquisite detail.


It wasn't possible for Didion to accept John's death at first and so she decided he would come back. But still, despite the obvious contradiction here, she realized there would be an obit in the New York Times and she couldn't allow her friends in California to find out about John in the newspapers, especially a New York newspaper. Immediately, a thought struck her: If when a loved one dies, you jet to California, or better yet, New Zealand, then the person isnït yet dead, and you might just get one more day, right? Thus began Didion's year of magical thinking.


But it's the later part of the monologue, when Didion talks about Q that she abandons all intellectual distance, all pretense of magical thinking, and precariously balances herself between control and collapse. For how do you adjust to such cataclysmic tragedy?


What compels us to endure the stages of grief with Didion is its universality. Anyone who has ever suffered a loss knows exactly what she experienced, even if the circumstances are altogether different. But "Magical Thinking" is anything but a depressing play. It is rather, cathartic and uplifting. Didion shows us a way to use a year of "magical thinking" when it becomes necessary so that we too may heal.


"A Year of Magical Thinking" is a night of magical theater. This is the performance of a lifetime in a lifetime of performances. And frankly, anyone else nominated for a Best Actress Tony this year should simply gracefully say, "No thank you. Give it to Vanessa."


In The Year of Magical Thinking, her wrenching memoir of the year following the death of her husband John Gregory Dunne, Joan Didion describes the episodes of magical thinking that forestalled her acceptance of Dunne's sudden absence from her life. In the hours after his death, she charged his cell phone. Weeks later, she gave his clothes to charity but kept his shoes because, she thought, "He would need shoes if he were to return."


Modern grief theory tells us that episodes like these are common during the months following a loved one's death, particularly when the death, like Dunne's, occurs suddenly and unexpectedly. This article argues that the same type of magical thinking also affects victims of fraud.


This article examines the parallels between financial loss due to fraud and the death of a loved one and explores, in particular, the magical thinking that has driven some of the Madoff victims' litigation. Though written in the context of the legal profession and focusing on the role of lawyers, the article also offers insights to counselors, family members, and victims of fraud.


Follow Us On Twitter googletag.cmd.push(function() googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1537475330107-0'); ); The Year of Magical Thinking at Theater Wit The Year of Magical Thinking Theater Wit 1229 W Belmont Ave Chicago In 2003, Joan Didion's life irrevocably changed when she was stuck with a double tragedy. As she grieves, she finds herself gripped by a magical sense that the deceased could still somehow return. An adaptation of her own Pulitzer-prize nominated book, celebrated essayist Didion (Slouching Toward Bethlehem) writes a raw, stupefyingly personal account of loss. Bracingly lucid and spellbindingly poetic, The Year of Magical Thinking is an honest and unsparing depiction of mourning and a pain that must be looked at to be understood.


In Chapters 14-17, Didion attempts to move forward with her life. She takes on new writing assignments and travels to Boston. However, she feels unstable and fragile. She is followed by memories and her grasp of time and rationality are weak. Didion recognizes her own grief as a form of self-pity. She mourns the fact that her husband has left her alone. Although she understands the value of moving on, she does not feel ready to abandon magical thinking. A part of her still believes that her husband might one day return. 041b061a72


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