Blue Nights

author: 
Didion, Joan

Joan Didion's writing is always elegant, haunting and clever, which is true, as ever in Blue Nights. Even so, this memoir about her daughter's death is no Year of Magical Thinking (Didion's memoir about losing her husband, around the same time).

For me the strongest part of the book is where Didion confronts aging and how it feels to be inside a body that behaves inexplicably, that can't be dressed the same way as it once was and that leaves her vulnerable to condescending health care professionals and their lazy assumptions. I sympathize with the 75-year-old (now) childless widow not knowing who to put as an emergency contact. That question was a challenging one for me when I was single. Unlike Didion, I could have listed my parents, but that seemed shameful.

Speaking of shame, Didion doesn't acquit herself well on the question of privilege:

Can't privilege and "bone stupidity" be the same thing?

reviewdate: 
Aug 24 2013
isn: 
978-0-307-26767-2

Comments

#1 laura

I actually liked this a lot better than The Year of Magical Thinking, but that may be because I have a child and not a husband.

I confess to a curiosity about why it seems shameful to have a parent as one's emergency contact -- my mother has always been mine.

#2 jenna

I think you have a Gilmore Girls relationship with your mom where it feels natural for you to have her as your go-to person. For me, though, and for other people I've talked to having a parent as am emergency contact feels like they're the only person who cares about it, and that's sad.

#3 laura

Interesting. I can't comment on the Gilmore Girls aspect, as I've never seen the show, but I do actually think that my mother is the only person who really cares about me -- or at least as if she's the only one who does of whom I can also ask favors. Also, of course, she'll always be my mother, whereas I feel other relationships in life are more tenuous.