Fourth Estate, £7.99
Blue Nights, By Joan Didion
Arifa Akbar is literary editor of The Independent and i newspapers. She has worked at The Independent since 2001 as a news reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She was a judge for the Orwell Prize for books, 2013.
Saturday 21 July 2012
Blue Nights, a memoir about the death of Didion's daughter, Quintana Roo, differs from its 2006 predecessor – The Year of Magical Thinking – a memoir about the death of her husband.
The two died in quick succession, but where Didion's former reflections captured the raw emotional fallout and sheer disbelief, the writing here is far more analytical, emotionally restrained and self-questioning.
Distilled moments of her daughter's life have an almost photographic clarity, but the larger anxiety, around Didion's own frail health and mortality, colours the grief.
And why are 'southern' ways of speaking spreading north?
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