Blue Nights

Blue Nights

Book - 2011
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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.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780307267672
Characteristics: 188 p. ; 21 cm.


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Dec 12, 2018

Beautifully written in the Didion tradition. Finished in 1-2 sittings and re-read immediately just so to not miss any bits and to experience her words again. A powerful, tumultuous story tightly wrapped in carefully crafted cadence.

Jul 15, 2013

so disapointing after the year of magical thinking. read this while dad was dying. about her daughter, but not really enough. should've been more about quintana and less of joan's ruminations....

kelleypoole Dec 26, 2012

I am much too fond on details and information to relish this book. I would've liked to know what happened to her daughter but instead had to string together some frayed pieces and create my own picture. It was too repetitive and indulgent for me, but I imagine that is just her style. If you are fond of her style, I'm sure this will be a touching memoir for you. Just not my cup of tea.

Sep 09, 2012

old age

Jul 30, 2012

A poignant, moving meditation on memory, loss, adoption, death and aging. She has the skill to observe her own pain and we share it with her.

Jul 20, 2012

Didion has written an extended poem as an elegy for her deceased daughter, and as, perhaps prematurely, a swan song for herself, it is a beautiful, haunting reminiscence, from a poet who has not lost her stride

Jul 02, 2012

Lovely thoughts on aging and death. Good companion piece to the excellent "The Year of Magical Thinking".

Mar 11, 2012

I'm not a fan of the rambling, repetitive, scattered style in which the author expresses her thoughts on old age. Then again, it is an appropriate fit for her theme. The wistful longing for her dead daughter is heartbreaking.

hutchinsjeremy Jan 18, 2012

The best book about Silence going into old age and, eventually, non-existence, I've ever read.

ksoles Jan 01, 2012

"Blue Nights" both begins and ends in colour, when the days shorten and “twilights turn long and blue.” Such blue light becomes Joan Didion's vehicle to articulate the intense beauty and pain that accompany awareness of imminent loss.

This slim memoir deals with the unimaginable: the death of one's child. Didion speaks with devastating accuracy here and beautifully intertwines shards of the past. She addresses grief by continually circling back to the time before its advent, spiralling through memory trying to salvage what remains. But Didion finds no coherence among her memories; instead, she heartbreakingly offers an integrity that resists resolution.

Rather unfortunately, though, "Blue Nights" has a jumbled quality, with memories of Quintana giving way to those of film shoots, room service and news reports about abduction. In this way, the structure mirrors Didion's secondary and almost intrusive theme: the disorienting effects of aging. As the narrative develops, the author becomes increasingly explicit about the fact that the blue light, which warns of “the dying of the brightness,” is signalling to her. She worries about “[her] new inability to summon the right word, the apt thought, the connection that enables the words to make sense, the rhythm, the music itself.”

She needn't worry yet. Cognitive frailty may befall her someday but, for now, she remains an extraordinarily talented wordsmith, “sketching in a rhythm and letting that rhythm tell [her] what it was [she] was saying."

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Mar 11, 2012

Aging and its evidence remain life's most predictable events, yet they also remain matters we prefer to leave unmentioned, unexplored: I have watched tears flood the eyes of grown women, loved women, women of talent and accomplishment, for no reason other than that a small child in the room, more often than not an adored niece or nephew, has just described them as "wrinkly," or asked how old they are. When we are asked this question we are always undone by its innocence, somehow shamed by the clear bell-like tones in which it is asked. What shames us is this: the answer we give is never innocent.


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