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Joan Didion does it again, name-dropping her way through another book about personal tragedy. This time, it's the untimely death of her only child, a daughter adopted as a baby. Didion paints a scattered picture of her daughter, Quintana Roo -- a few scenes of her childhood, of her wedding, a couple of passages dedicated to Q's mental health struggles (depression, anxiety - implied that it was somehow related to adoption/abandonment); the rest is woe-is-me Didion and of course tons of pretentious references: Malibu, Hollywood, the movie directors, the Redgraves, the Corvette, the elite schools, the Rivera vacations, the Christian Louboutin shoes, the 60 dresses. We never know (from Didion) what put Quintana in the hospital for months or what killed her (although Didion does her best to try to implicate the ICU doctors), but elsewhere it's said that the daughter self-destructed due to alcohol. Also Didion takes an unnecessary dig at "Diving Bell and the Butterfly" author Jean-Dominique Bauby -- for that I would have given this book zero stars had that been an option.
Not my cup of tea. Written for a very limited audience, I suspect, and on the strength of the author's reputation. There is no revelation of character of Quintana Roo, John Dunne or of Joan Didion herself, and the narrative is fragmented. It is difficult to develop empathy or understanding. I consider this memoir to be the author's self endulgence rather than an attempt to share her grief and her ideas with a wider audience.
I enjoyed YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING which was briefly incarnated in a stage play. No play likely in the offing for BLUE NIGHTS. In Didion's initial confessional there were many hints about her daughter's sickness, and hence the reader might have expected some pay-off in BLUE NIGHTS. But this is not forthcoming. There is not much at all about the medical particulars of Quintana's death.
I have concluded that BLUE NIGHTS is more about Didion than about her daughter's death. While some may wish to read about Didion's encroaching sense of mortality, I was not much taken by her musings.
Seemed self-indulgent to me. Possibly narcissistic.
Some of my negative reaction may be due to our own family's struggle with a beautiful blond daughter who is still alive, but very much vacant from us due to a traffic-accident induced traumatic brain injury. I am not sure our daughter could quite measure up to the splendour of Quintana Roo, but then again BLUE NIGHTS seemed to contain precious little that might be considered "factual" about Didion's daughter.
Every parent mourns in a way appropriate to every parent. I guess I cannot doubt the sincerity of Didion's mournings for her adopted daughter. And no one can second guess the depth of my own pain regarding our daughter Rebecca.
I found Blue Nights pretentious and self-absorbed. I mean how many times can a 75-year old author mention her black cashmere leggings and glass bead necklaces? Writing about her fears and phobias may be therapeutic, but, hey, I don't feel the need to publish all my journal writings.
Sad that this book isn't really a look at how Joan Didion dealt with the loss of her child - for she has not. It is more about 'oh poor me', not only did i lose a child, but i am getting old and sick, too. Whatever is to come of me?
For someone who is allegedly such an intellectual, woman of the world, as we are told time and time again, she was an idiotic, self absorbed so called mother, starting with giving the poor girl that awful name. Why not write a book about her favotite subject - herself. Perhaps the girl would be alive and well if left with genetically inferior (poor) family although she may have had fewer sundries. People deal with grief differently of course, but one gets the sense she misses her husband much more than her accessory child.
Read this if you like reading an endless list of expensive items, but no diapers, and name dropping from 50 years ago. Ms. Didion seems to think it charming that she was so clueless about motherhood. Here's a clue, if 10% of this is true, you and your husband were pathetic.
I loved Didion's other memoir, but I just couldn't get into this one. I try to finish every book I start, but I could barely start this one. From the beginning of the memoir, the book seemed sad and depressing, not at all heartwarming and enlightening like her other books.