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  • Writer's pictureCole Haddon

THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING: Joan Didion's Case for the Art of Mourning

Joan Didion’s THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING shook me.

I’ve struggled with persistent grief for several years after a series of deaths in my family, but reading her account of the sudden death of her husband and its aftermath made clear to me that I had failed to properly mourn myself, that 20th Century society’s move away from mourning culture to "getting over it" has damaged how we all experience death.

There was once an intimacy and art to mourning, but now we are encouraged to "be strong" and prove to others, and thus ourselves, we are not going to be beaten by it. But mourning is ritual, like so much of our culture (ie, religion as much as I abhor it). Rituals help us contextualize and understand our grief; they also force others to acknowledge it, rather than guilt you into feeling like showing yours makes them uncomfortable.

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking, grief, pain, book reviews

I think it’s likely my ritual in this matter was to write. Certainly, my first two novels are, in part, literary confrontations with the trauma of death, grief, and the fear of losing more. Several screenwriting projects, as well.

I don’t want to recommend Didion’s book to people who have experienced grief. It really should be read by those who haven’t yet, to help prepare them since society stopped doing so in the early 20th Century.

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking, grief, pain, book reviews

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You can also read about and pre-order my debut novel PSALMS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (1st September) by clicking here or on the following image. I've often described it as a novel about how grief, love, and quantum physics connects us all.

Psalms for the End of the World, literary fiction, speculative fiction, science-fiction, new fiction, new books, Headline Publishing Group, Hachette Publishing Group, Australian author

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