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The Year of Magical Thinking Audiobook

The Year of Magical Thinking

"Life changes fast....You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends." These were among the first words Joan Didion wrote in January 2004. Her daughter was lying unconscious in an intensive care unit, a victim of pneumonia and septic shock. Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, was dead. The night before New Year's Eve, while they were sitting down to dinner, he suffered a massive and fatal coronary. The two had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years.
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Publisher's Summary

National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2005

"Life changes fast....You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends." These were among the first words Joan Didion wrote in January 2004. Her daughter was lying unconscious in an intensive care unit, a victim of pneumonia and septic shock. Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, was dead. The night before New Year's Eve, while they were sitting down to dinner, he suffered a massive and fatal coronary. The two had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years.

The weeks and months that followed "cut loose any fixed idea I had about death, about illness, about probability and luck...about marriage and children and memory...about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself."

In The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion explores with electric honesty and passion a private yet universal experience. Her portrait of a marriage, and a life, in good times and bad, will speak directly to anyone who has ever loved a husband, a wife, or a child.

Listen to Joan Didion's full-hour interview with Charlie Rose.

©2005 Joan Didion; (P)2005 HighBridge Company

What the Critics Say

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Biography/Memoir
  • National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee, Autobiography, 2005

"Many will greet this taut, clear-eyed memoir of grief as a long-awaited return to the terrain of Didion's venerated, increasingly rare personal essays....This is an indispensable addition to Didion's body of work and a lyrical, disciplined entry in the annals of mourning literature." (Publishers Weekly)
"The Year of Magical Thinking is not a downer. On the contrary. Though the material is literally terrible, the writing is exhilarating and what unfolds resembles an adventure narrative." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (1667 )
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3.9 (745 )
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4.1 (738 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jennifer 10-30-13
    Jennifer 10-30-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Excellent Writing; Barbara Caruso is awesome"
    Would you listen to The Year of Magical Thinking again? Why?

    Yes. This is my first Joan Didion book, she has such a way with words, and sentences and phrasing - I have never read a writer that writes like she does; almost like listening to music. However, what really made this a treasure was Barbara Caruso's narration. Perfect voice and artistry for this book.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Year of Magical Thinking?

    There was no one moment; as Joan tended to describe the same event over and over again, but with a different twist, different angle, and attitude and approach each time. So you saw the event in the different ways that she did.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Where Joan is at UCLA medical center with her daughter - her questioning of the doctors, her detailed research and her thoughts about the same - and later when she wonders what John would have thought during that time.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lola Marcos Detroit, MI USA 06-03-13
    Lola Marcos Detroit, MI USA 06-03-13

    citymouse

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    "For anyone who has suffered the loss of a close lo"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. This book is very raw and honest. As someone who has suffered a loss similar to Didion's I could relate and sympathize with her. She made me feel like I was normal and that I had a companion.


    What did you like best about this story?

    How relate able Didion was.


    What does Barbara Caruso bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    This is the first audiobook I listened to that featured a more "mature" narrator and it made me feel like addition herself could have been reading to me. Her voice had a sense of history and knowledge to it that I greatly appreciated.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Absolutely not. I had to take breaks from this cease the subject matter is very far from lighthearted. Didion's words have a lot of meat to them and listening to it all in one sitting would have made it a less memorable and less impact full listen.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary 05-10-13
    Mary 05-10-13

    Thank God for a mother who read to me all the time. If it were not for her I would not leave the house without an iPod.

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    "Loving Joan Didion. A Year of Magical Thinking"

    This small book is magical. Anyone who has lost a family member will say "oh the same thing happened to me." Having lost too many people in my family I found this book at times funny, because I did the same thing, sad, not maudlin and educational. I have always liked Joan Didion's books but this one is my favorite. She recalls the small details one would experience after a death. She could not give his shoes away because he might come back and need them. That is a perfect example of magical thinking whether you are thinking like a sociologist or a psychologist or have lost a loved one.

    Joan Didion's book Blue Nights is about the death of her daughter. I think of them as companion books but not alike. Read A Year of Magical Thinking. Sometimes it will make you smile.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elaine Taravella Colorado Springs, CO USA 05-08-13
    Elaine Taravella Colorado Springs, CO USA 05-08-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Absolutely first rate"
    What did you love best about The Year of Magical Thinking?

    Joan Didion's heart-wrenching but ultimately luminous memoir of the year following her husband's death is brought magically to life by Barbara Caruso's superb narration. Didion's literary voice has always been uniquely her own and, in the hands of a lesser narrator, can sound repetitive, almost annoying (e.g. the audio recording of "Blue Nights", Didion's subsequent book). Caruso does the author justice; uttering those almost incantatory phrases with what sounds like the cadence of Didion's thought. The result is mesmerizing and I've listened to this book numerous times. The book itself is a hymn to grief and a balm as well. It's lovely to read, but attains enormous power in Caruso's audio rendition. This book is so dear to my heart--I can't recommend this combo of Didion and Caruso enough!


    What did you like best about this story?

    Didion's exquisite rendering of loss: raw, true, never melodramatic.


    What about Barbara Caruso’s performance did you like?

    Everything. I could listen to Barbara Caruso read a telephone directory, but she's never better than when reading truly fine writing.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes...and I did.


    Any additional comments?

    Painful as the subject matter may be, this is not one to miss.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 06-04-12
    John 06-04-12
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    "Sad for Joan, but missed the magic"
    Would you try another book from Joan Didion and/or Barbara Caruso?

    Probably not. I am sad for the author and her loss but didn't feel her retelling of her grieving process was anything new or magical.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Joan Didion again?

    Probably not.


    What three words best describe Barbara Caruso’s performance?

    adequate, mature, clear


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Sadness to be sure. Disappointed because the title led me to believe there would be some magic involved in her year of grieving but I didn't get any magic from it, just someone sharing their grief.


    Any additional comments?

    disappointing.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary 04-18-12
    Mary 04-18-12
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    "Magical"
    What made the experience of listening to The Year of Magical Thinking the most enjoyable?

    Listening to the sotry of Didion's emergence from grief was gripping and entertaining.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story is worth a second listen!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kirsten RIDGECREST, NC, United States 02-20-12
    Kirsten RIDGECREST, NC, United States 02-20-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Didn't work for me"

    I'm not sure what i was hoping for here. The book chronicles, in an honest and forthright way, the author's bereavement at the death of her husband. It is well written and well read. I just couldn't get through it. Too bleak. Perhaps there is sunshine at the end, but i couldn't hang in there to find out.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fern Scarborough, ON, Canada 02-19-12
    Fern Scarborough, ON, Canada 02-19-12

    I am in my car a lot so I love audio books. I belong to a library book club and as I am an audio person, listening to books suits me.

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    "A good book to read."
    If you could sum up The Year of Magical Thinking in three words, what would they be?

    The surviving partner.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Year of Magical Thinking?

    How to survive after your partner has passed on.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Being in one's house after your partner has gone and the usual habits no longer apply.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Joan wondering if she should tell her daughter that her farther has died. Later on the daughter still asks where is her farther as the news has not registered in her mind.


    Any additional comments?

    Just read this book especially if you are having issues with a death of a loved one as this writer is very articulate.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Naomi BRONX, NY, United States 02-19-12
    Naomi BRONX, NY, United States 02-19-12 Listener Since 2009
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    "Do you really care?"

    Joan Didion and her husband, the writer Gregory Dunne, returned from the hospital where their adopted daughter, Quintana Roo was in a coma. Dunne suffered a fatal heart attack. Didion reviews what happened in excruciating detail and wonders if there is something that she could have done differently, noticed earlier, to save her husband's life. Didion's prose is, as usual, crystalline, but the self-absorption in her own pain and that of her family wore me out.

    She's written another one about her daughter's death, but I think I can skip it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sam Riverside, RI, United States 01-17-12
    sam Riverside, RI, United States 01-17-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Very Helpful"
    What did you love best about The Year of Magical Thinking?

    I have had a year in which some momentous changes rocked my own world and reading a book like this was useful in reminding me that we are all prisoners of


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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