The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion


The Year of Magical Thinking is a memoir covering the year after Joan Didion's husband died. She writes about emptiness, dreams, children, family, things she did, where she went, what she remembered, what she wrote about. Magical thinking refers to her dealing with John's death, grief and mourning, as well as with the time their daughter Quintana was hospitalised. She mentions that she was thinking as small children think, as if her thoughts and actions had the power to change the outcome. She finds it difficult to give away his shoes because he would need them when he returned. But later she wonders how he would come back if his organs were taken at the hospital. She asks herself: "... did I remain so unable to accept the fact that he has died?" 

"A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty." Life changes in an instant as Didion puts it at the beginning of the book, an ordinary instant. What remains is emptiness which changed everything, her daily rituals, what she was used to, how she discussed everything with John ("I remember thinking that I needed to discuss this with John. There was nothing I did not discuss with John."), how she told him her dreams each morning ("I used to tell John my dreams, not to understand them, but to get rid of them, clear my mind for the day.") When he died there's no one she could tell them to. She stopped having dreams.


I don't think much about death and dying, at least not consciously. The reason may be that the mere thought of losing someone so close seems scary. The Year of Magical Thinking made me put certain things in perspective. Death, grief and mourning aren't your everyday conversation topics. We tend to avoid them; we created a taboo out of themes and events that should be talked about. The Year of magical thinking was my first Joan Didion book. I found her writing beautiful, honest and human. I'll certainly be reading more of Joan Didion's books in future.

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The Year of Magical Thinking (Leto čarobnega mišljenja?) je knjiga pisana v obliki spominov, ki obravnava leto po smrti moža Joan Didion. Piše o praznini, sanjah, otrocih, družini, stvareh, ki jih je počela, krajih kamor je šla, spominih, temah, o katerih je pisala. Čarobno mišljenje se nanaša na avtoričino doživljanje moževe smrti, žalovanja za njim in časa, ko je bila njuna hči Quintana zaradi resne bolezni sprejeta v bolnišnico. Pravi, da je razmišljala kot razmišljajo majhni otroci, kot da bi misli in dejanja lahko spremenila tragične dogodke. Opisuje kako ni mogla oddati moževih čevljev, saj jih bo potreboval, ko se bo vrnil. Malce kasneje pa se sprašuje kako bi se lahko vrnil, če so mu v bolnišnici odvzeli organe. Ne neki točki se vpraša ali je postala tako nezmožna sprejeti dejstvo, da ga ni več.

Smrt pusti za seboj praznino. Življenje se spremeni v trenutku, čisto navadnem trenutku. Ostane praznina, ki je za Joan Didion spremenila vse, njene vsakodnevne obrede, navade, kako se je o vsem posvetovala z Johnom, kako mu je zjutraj pripovedovala o sanjah pa ne zato, da bi jih razumela, ampak, da bi se jih znebila, si očistila misli za tisti dan. Po njegovi smrti ni bilo več nikogar, ki bi mu lahko pripovedovala o sanjah. Prenehala je sanjati. 

Ne razmišljam pretirano o smrti in umiranju. Vsaj ne zavedno. Morda zato, ker se mi zdi že sama misel na to, da izgubiš bližnjega, strašljiva. Leto čarobnega mišljenja mi je dalo misliti o nekaterih stvareh. Smrt in žalovanje nista ravno vsakodnevni temi. Po navadi se izogibamo pogovorov o smrti, ustvarili smo tabuje, čeprav bi se o tem morali pogovarjati. To je bila prva knjiga Joan Didion, ki sem jo prebrala. Njeno pisanje se mi je zdelo lepo, iskreno in človeško. Gotovo bom prebrala še katero.


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