Review: The Year of Magical Thinking

I don’t like to hear or read sad stories and this is one, but I forced myself to do it. I found the practice of scoring this book a disgusting one because this was a real story. How one can score the pain of a person? just because was written on a piece of paper? I look down the reviews and dozens of my fellow readers, at Goodreads, and I think, what kind of empathy this planet has?

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

A brutally honest book, a real story, a brain dump of the pain that she felt after losing two loved ones. A husband and a kid. At times I couldn’t hold myself, and few tears left my eye. Her style is more of a diary of events and details about the situation that she faced.

This is entirely written for her to make a self-catharsis and heal, all other options available to her didn’t work. She stripped out anything poetic, anything that you could consider as “polishing” a story and just wrote what was going on her mind. At times, I felt that she was lucky, most of us do not go to parties where the secret service is present nor can afford 20.000 dollars medicines. Nevertheless, pain is similar no matter if you are rich or poor, pain is the same for all and that keeps us humble and equal.

The loss of the husband is more emphasized, but the process of how her daughter died is dominating the book. I understand that 40 years living with her man, her life partner gave her more moments to remember. Kids grow up, live their life, but our partners are there next to us every single day and night.

What a painful experience she had, I don’t wish to feel the same. In fact, I don’t want this to anyone but death is unavoidable and we need to face it at one point in time. Made me think, if we knew the expiration day would have been better for us? Is the randomness of the event that causes us so much pain? Is the idea of unfulfilled dreams and potential that sadden us more? And why we are not sad when we don’t seize the day when we are still alive and breathing?

Pain is for the living; we don’t know how the person who goes, feels.

Final thoughts

Still trying to rationalize the emotions behind death and now that I’m thinking of it, is a bit selfish since we don’t know what exists after life. Yes, we created beautiful stories that include harems and nice guys with a white beard, but we haven’t proved nothing yet.

So my conclusion for death is that is a selfish feeling, missing the person who loves and remembering the moments we had. And since we are humans we cannot eliminate those thoughts and feelings with the touch of a button, we must face them, and that makes us humans. An imperfect organism trying making sense of it all.

PS: Look how letters marked on the book cover. John, the name of her husband.

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