Discussion Questions for “The Year of Magical Thinking”

I found some good discussion questions over at Book Browse.com.  Please take a moment to leave your answer with us.  Make sure to note which question you are answering. 

1.  Consider the four sentences in italics that begin chapter one. What did you think when you read them for the first time? What do you think now?

2.  Discuss the notion of “magical thinking.” Have you ever experienced anything like this, after a loss or some other life-changing occurrence? How did it help, or hinder, your healing?

3.  Consider the tone Didion uses throughout the book, one of relatively cool detachment. Clearly she is in mourning, and yet her anguish is quite muted. How did this detached tone affect your reading experience?

4.  One word critics have used again and again in describing this book is “exhilarating.” Did you find it to be so? Why, or why not?

 5.  Discuss Didion’s repetition of sentences like “For once in your life just let it go”; “We call it the widowmaker”; “I tell you that I shall not live two days”; and “Life changes in the instant.” What purpose does the repetition serve? How did your understanding of her grief change each time you reread one of these sentences?

6.  Didion is adapting The Year of Magical Thinking into a play bound for Broadway. How do you imagine its transition from page to stage? Would you want to see the play?

Book Review ~ The Year of Magical Thinking (Was It Really THAT Magical?)

The Year of Magical ThinkingOctober’s book was “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion.  I finished it last week and though the story was a good one, the “magical thinking” aspect did not really grab me.  I understand that it was more of a way for the author to record the most terrible year of her life and recount the thoughts and actions that kept her going.  I can’t imagine having such tragedies hit so close together (though her daughter did survive). 

I wasn’t a big fan of the author’s writing style and had a hard time staying with parts of the book.  I would be interested in seeing the play of this book.  To hear the words and see the actress would probably make the tale a bit more meaningful to me. 

I suppose you might think that I didn’t like this book.  I did relate to the part about John believing that they weren’t having any fun.  I believe that if you don’t try to make the best of everyday, be it get your to-do list done, take a moment to enjoy the breeze, play with the family pet or enjoy a few pages of your book that one day you will wonder where your life went.  What did I really do?  I will keep it on my shelf and if tragedy affects my life I will hopefully find the words to be helpful in the way that the author intended them. 

I’m curious to know what you thought of this book.  Please share your review and thoughts on “The Year of Magical Thinking”.  Good, bad, bored, loved it, whatever.