Saturday, November 12, 2011
blue nights is another post about death.....I'm sorry, my dear readers...But, you reach a certain age and death becomes a bigger and bigger part of your life as each day passes....If you find it too painful and/or depressing to read about all this....well, then....just click off---(maybe some of you already have)---and come back another day......But let me just say this: Your own mortality and the mortality of those you are close to and love dearly becomes more and more paramount as you get older. At least it has for me. I worry about what is happening in my body, and I worry about what is happening in all of my friends "of a certain age"......I know this is the way it goes. I know that. I understand that. But....STILL I worry about it and I find it all very depressing and very hard to be confronted with on a daily basis......I just finished Joan Didion's new book, "BLUE NIGHTS"......I was so moved by it...touched in such a deep way. I LOVE her writing and I so often know the people and places she writes about---that makes it feel familiar and friendly...No, I do not know her personally. But, because of her writing, I feel like I do. It is so honest and truthful and bare-bones heartbreaking....Her last two books---"The Year Of Magical Thinking" and "Blue Nights"....The first, about how she got through the first year or so after the death of her husband of almost 40 years, John Gregory Dunne....the second---this new book---is about the death and life of their adopted daughter, Quintanna Roo Dunne, who died 18 months after her dear husband, at the age of 39.....Adoption is an important part of this book as well as motherhood, and it is also about the frailness that Joan Didion feels at this stage of her life, now having a number of infirmities visited upon her----This little book----only 188 pages long, I read it in less than two days----Is so powerful and so deeply moving---yes I know I said that already...I will say it again----And it is haunting, too.This is a book that stays with you for a long long time. I have always been drawn to 'memoir' and prefer to read this kind of book over almost any other----and I'm not talking about the Kardashien type 'memoir'....I'm talking about the sharing of a life by a superb writer, which is more powerful than anything in it's ability to touch your heart......! This is such a book by one of our finest writers. I urge you to read this very special little book---No, it is not a walk-in-the-park, but it is incredibly rewarding just the same. Why? Because she is not afraid to tell it like it is....And she is a true 'poet'.....To read more about Joan Didion and her body of work, go here......,
here......and here.........!

More To Come...........

Links to this post:


had this to say:

you are so right about death becoming such a huge part of our lives as we wonder older people seem depressed..we are!

which is why I have sent for another book by Bill Bryson. After haveing some good laughs thru the first one I read (A Walk in the Woods) I thought I'd try The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bryson and hope I laugh yet again.. Death depresses me to the point of exhaustion.. and although I too read books about it both fiction and "real".. we don't really need the reminders. *sigh* Sometimes we need to laugh.

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 5:34:00 AM PST 

Blogger Pat
had this to say:

Yes I have enjoyed Joan Didion's writing and must try to get hold of 'Blue Nights' as I particularly appreciated 'The Year of Magical Thinking.'
At this age - unless one is a total escapist it is normal to think of death. I like to think of it as my next great adventure.
It's the actual doing of it that gives pause for thought.

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 7:45:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I saw a write about this book and although it sounds wonderful I couldn't read it. I'm neurotic enough as it is.

I've worried about death since I was a young child. Having lost so many people over the years hasn't helped either. Death takes people of all ages so we should be blessed that we are alive right now!

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 10:30:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I have not read either of her books, and you have just convinced me that I ought to. It seems they would make great books for my book club.

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 10:43:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Hi Naomi,

I believe that we all think about death a lot. It's the 80's, when so many of our comrades were dying, there were so many funerals and memorials that I was in total acceptance of death. Very little fear or worry as so many were going before me. Then we create all of these wonderful drugs and people stop dying so rapidly, and strangely enough...fear of death creeped back in. I think about death a lot, at least once a day. I think it's pretty normal. What I don't want is the accompanying feeings of fear. Fear is pointless. I certainly do not want the end to come with me in a state of fear. Hopefully it will be in a state of acceptance and grace.

I JUST read a review of this book not 2 days ago. I will definitely read it.

I do not mind reading books that are difficult or painful. My mom will not. I begged her for a year to read "Angela's Ashes", as we are 1/2 Irish and full Alcoholic, but she could not because she said it would be too painful. And truth be told, it was her loss. That book was incredible and incredibly painful....and incredibly funny.

I just love you, Naomi.


Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 11:36:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I just saw a little video interview with her about this book. It sounds very good. How sad it must be to out live all your loved ones.

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 2:12:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Thanks for e-mailing.. I am sorry you cant comment. I am not afraid of death. but I dont like seeing people I am close to be so close to it either.. I know people who could go any day and its like no dont go yet..

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 5:23:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I share your admiration for Joan Didion and her brilliance. I fear not death but I do have concern about just how I will depart on that next adventure, hopefully with grace. For 48 years, my partner and I travelled the world, laughing and crying about life in general. What a remarkable time it was. My partner died three years ago and I have longed to follow, not morbidly, just for our last journey. I am very curious as to just what's happening over there. It bothers me that my family and loved ones will mourn, unavoidable I guess, but I wish there were some way they could look upon my final act as just the next step...wishing me "bon voyage" while waving from the dock. I am so busy trying to do all the things that I want to do: dining once or twice a week with old chums, writing dozens of letters in addition to e-mails, and phoning those I can not visit on a regular basis. It is a full time job, that, keeping up to date, saying things I need and want to say, leaving me little time for fear. And when my head hits the pillow each night, I plot tomorrow's adventure...and that seems to over ride fears, maskes the aches and pains of 83 years wear and tear on this old body.

This is getting far too long. I have a very tender tale to tell about the son of one of my classmates at Feagin (1948)who contacted me from Germany after finding a photograph of his Mom on my Feagin website.

Trust you are back in ballet class by now. Cordially, Sherwood

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 5:24:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I've watched my parents' generation come to this realization, and try as I may I still haven't figured out how to make sense of it. Logically I know we're all mortal, that life is finite, and we must treasure it as a result. Emotionally, I don't know if there's an elegant way to navigate a world where the lucky among us are increasingly the only ones standing.

I'm thankful we have you, Naomi, to help us see the way.

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 7:55:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I have heard very good reviews for both of these books and I know I would like to read them, but right now, I have a book case full of books I haven't found time to read. I'm hoping next semester won't be so crazy and I will find more time for me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 8:44:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I've read almost all her books. I like her prose: lean and exact, with no self pity.
I wonder if writing about death, talking about it, is part of getting ready for the inevitable? I have never minded your recollecting times gone by, or reporting upon your friends' or colleagues deaths. I always find those stories to be a chance for all of us who only know you virtually to know you a bit better. And for this ... I am grateful!

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 10:04:00 PM PST 

Blogger Mar
had this to say:

Thank you for addressing this topic and for the tip, dear. Other cultures take death as part of life and do not avoid talking about it... I do not know this writer, I will look for her books.

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 10:21:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Her writing sounds so very moving and truthful Naomi, though I do not think it is the book for me just now. I am not in a place where I can truly appreciate it I think, though your post is a wonderful tribute to her writing. I am glad I chose to stop by. I have missed your blog but many things have contrived to keep me away lately (new job at work, assessment centres for promotion, photography, new puppy and usual stuff). I hope to pop by more often again now and that I find you and Sweetie both doing well. Purrs from my boys, hugs from me and woof from my new puppy boy :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 6:25:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Nice review and enough for me to place this book on my "Wish List."

As for our own mortality, that is the human condition, isn't it? Coming to grips with that most basic of the facts of "life." How we do so, says a lot about our own character, methinks, though no one can truly judge, good or bad, how another deals with it.

Thanks for this post, dear.


Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 6:40:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

As a child, death was just a part of life. The two are NEVER parted. At birth we begin to die and at death we begin our rebirth. Just science. Our brains however, dwell on it at certain times. Depending on our culture, we mourn or celebrate or do both. I am fascinating by aging. I keep diaries of my physical aging, since I was in my 20s. I love to compare photos of youth vs aged. Now, I am still 'only' 54 and live in a complex where the avg age is 85---surprising how freely they will speak of death. Surprising how gracefully they handle it. They laugh, make jokes, are diagnosed with Alzheimer's, then come back to play bridge and laugh. What I hear most often is: "Whaddya gonna do?" with a shrug of well-worn shoulders. Nobody is worried here. We all just carry on. Have purpose. Laugh. Love.
"I ended up with a broken fiddle-\And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories.\And not a single regret." - Fiddler Jones

Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 8:29:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I have read a number of posts about this book recently and each one puts it higher on the "must read" list -- I've always loved her work, but the personal stories she tells are so very moving. Loss is a big part of my life and I appreciate those who can so eloquently share their pain and growth.

You have been much in my thoughts recently, and I hope you are well. It is so very hard to be confronted by our own aging and the loss of friends, isn't it? I know this one all too well. I know we share some health issues, and I hope you are in control these days. Not so sure about me!

Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 8:40:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Not an author I've come across, but they do sound like powerful books.

(Sorry if this comment is duplicated, I seem to be having issues commenting at the moment).

Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 8:57:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I just read a review for this book in today's (Sunday) Washington Post, Outlook section. Just thought I'd mention it in case you wanted to read their review on-line.

Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 10:03:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I haven't read this one yet but I've loved all her others. What a writer. And as I edge up on 70, the intimations of mortality are becoming harder and harder to ignore...

Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 2:52:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Joan Didion has had a tough decade. I guess we all have our tough years to face...if we haven't already, we will.

I think that is where faith comes in...for me anyway. That's what makes faith so important...and so hard.

I don't think I understood what faith meant until I needed it...really needed it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 3:01:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I read your touching post about the two weddings you officiated – such great memories – and to still know these wonderful people is what makes one happy with life.

I heard a lot of good reviews about The Year of Magical Thinking and it is on my list of books to read. Now I’ll add Blue Nights – but it must not be too easy to read. I am reading Steve Jobs’ bio right now and it is very interesting.

Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 6:45:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

This is the second mention of her book I have read today. One from a woman trying to deal with the loss of a child. Something that has to be the hardest thing ever asked of a woman.
I will definitely look for her book. Thank you.

Monday, November 14, 2011 at 6:32:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Hiya Naomi,

Thank you once again for sharing the book and yes death is difficult to deal with all the more so when I know my Mom's health is deteriorating and that death is 'predictable' at this stage.

I will keep a look out for this book.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 8:04:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I've piled up a bunch of books to read and now I wish I hadn't. I'll have to look for this one...even though it's not an uplifting subject I think it will inspire me and bring something new to my life (I'm always reading suspense novels, so it's time for something out of my comfort zone). I like the quote about revealing a difficult part of ourselves (when we write) that's on the link you provided. So true.

Thanks for the review, Naomi. Aging and death are not easy subjects but as you say, a part of life. There's no escaping it, we must all face it, but thank God for the good people we meet through life and stay with us a very long time. They're true blessings.

Hugs and much love...Ileana

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 7:24:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I have heard Joan Didion being interviewed on NPR. She is honest and eloquent and addresses things we all must face. At some point each one of us will shuffle to the head of the line.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 10:32:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

oh, dear naomi - i think there is no subject about which you could write that is not always beautifully and delicately but openly and honestly told - this post included - of the great didion - what might i add - and now another of her works to pour over - i'm so sorry to be a bit distracted in blogland of late - family matters being in the forefront - as they should be - but i've looked forward to dropping by tonight and as always, am not disappointed! wonderful to read you, lady!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 5:11:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

This sounds like a very interesting book Naomi. I'll have to look for it. Death comes to the young as well as the old. Naturally, I think as we age we tend to think of it more. When we are younger we think it's so far away and then the years go quickly by and next thing you know we wondered how we got to this age! I know I'm younger than you but looking back at my life thus far it seems to have flown by!

Hope you are feeling much better dear lady! Love and hugs!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 9:19:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Sounds like a very interesting read! My kind of book (and especially since it is not a big chunky book to read!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 4:59:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Great review, Naomi! I read many interviews with her about this book. It sounds very good, although
I hope you have a nice day!

Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 6:57:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Like you, I am drawn to memoirs and love to read about the layers of someone's life. I plan to read this book. I loved Magical Thinking and still feel I am on a study of death (which began when my 2 brothers died in 2001). I can only imagine how much it becomes part of your thinking at 80 because I know how much it has become part of mine already at 61.

Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 9:30:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

adore your words and writing and life. just fantastic. Thank You xxxx

Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 10:28:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 10:28:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I enjoyed reading you review of this book very much. I also just finished reading the same book. It is a beautiful book, and you are right, it is haunting.

Having just lost a daughter a little over a year ago, I wept through much of the book. I keep saying to myself as I read, "I am not alone."

I am including a link to my review if you are interested.

Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8:43:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I'm adding this to my reading list thank you and thank you for passing it along. I'm so behind on my blog reading but hoping to catch up a bit over the holidays.

Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 4:21:00 AM PST 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

I am a 27 year law enforcement officer and artist. I have enjoyed your blog for many years. Each time you have touched my heart in so many ways. Thank you so much for everything! Michael J

Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 8:29:00 AM PST 

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