Hello writer/blogger friends. This is just a quick update to inform you all that I am FINALLY moving my troublesome blog back over to WordPress Premium. The blog has been in transfer since Saturday and may not complete for another few days, so you won’t find much of anything here until the transfer completes and my ace tech support, Colleen Chesebro adds all that used to be here. Thanks for your patience and please don’t forget to FOLLOW THIS BLOG now.
Today I’m sharing some new and recent reviews I came across for all of my books! I was excited to recently find four new reviews for my book Menowhat? A Memoir. It seems one doesn’t have to be going through the changes of madness to feel curious about this book. A friend who I’d given a few of my books too was thrilled to type up reviews in gratitude for the books. Not everyone is tech savvy to get a review up on Amazon or Goodreads so I was very appreciative.
Customer Reviews for:
Meno-What? A Memoir: Memorable Moments Of Menopause
“I often found myself drifting from a state of normal in a sudden twist of bitchiness.”
From PMS to menopause to what the hell?
xD.G. adds a touch of humor to a tale about a not-so-humorous time. While bidding farewell to her dearly departing estrogen, D.G. struggles to tame her raging hormones of fire, relentless dryness, flooding and droughts and other unflattering symptoms.
xJoin D.G. on her meno-journey to slay the dragons of menopause as she tries to hold on to her sanity, memory, hair, and so much more!
Thrilled to find this review from author Alex Craigie
This book is one person’s account of what it was like for her as she went through perimenopause to menopause. I wish I’d read it years ago when I was going through it!
The author does stress that this is her journey and that the things that worked for her might not work for you. She also makes it crystal clear that your doctor is your first port of call and you should try nothing without checking that it’s all right for you.
What I really loved about this book was its down-to-earth approach and its humour. It’s a situation that can be grim enough as it is without wading through hefty tomes of complex information on the subject. All the issues discussed are ones that either I or my friends were familiar with – the hot flushes (flashes in the US), lack of sleep, unpredictable responses to situations caused by fluctuating hormones, memory lapses, dry skin, middle-age spread, digestive system issues and more. Pretty much everything is covered but with a generous sprinkling of humour that made it a delight to read.
The author says that a group of supportive friends helps to tough it out and the symptoms are ‘more manageable when you know you aren’t alone or going crazy.’
The book is filled with suggestions and tips–with the proviso that any supplements are okayed by a medical professional first – and it was wonderful to come across something that explained things with an honest but light touch that made you smile, or even laugh out loud. In the passage about trying to maintain body shape, she refers to ‘arms that continued to wave after I stopped’. It’s this light touch that made the book such a success with me. Seeing the funny side of something that has to be faced can only be a good thing and, as the author reminds us, laughter is the best medicine.
In my mother’s day, and in mine, the menopause was something that you suffered in silence. It wasn’t something you shared with anyone else and there was very little information to help you. The world is a better place because of books like this one.
I came across this gem of a review by Diana Peach on Amazon, and then shared again on her blog in herSeptember Reads
xMeno – What?: Memorable Moments of Menopause by D. G. Kaye
I tried to read this book in bed before nodding off, but my husband made me go downstairs… apparently my laughter was keeping him up. As someone who’s gone through “The Change,” I found this book highly relatable and, at times, laugh out loud funny. Kaye recommends laughter as a way of dealing with this shocking stage of life, and her account of her own battle with menopause and post-menopausal changes demonstrates that conviction.
Kaye gives an overview of the biological changes, reminds us that she isn’t a doctor, and clarifies that every woman will experience this misery in different ways. Besides offering plenty of opportunities for laughter, she provides suggestions for ways to manage our changing bodies. I especially related to her discussion of post-menopausal changes that begin with a stage called “What the Hell?”
xHer anecdotes are relatable… the covers on/covers off routine… opening the car window to let the snow blow in… “alligator” skin… sagging, spots, you name it, she covers the gamut and all with sardonic wit, disbelief, good sense, and a determination to fight back. This book is a memoir but one that doubles as a guide for women during their menopausal journeys. Highly recommended.
A recent 5 Star review from Harmony Kent:
#BookReview: Meno-What? by D G Kaye @pokercubster #Menopause #womensissues
Hi everyone! Today, I have a book review for a favourite writer of mine, D G Kaye … an author many of us know and love >>> Harmony posted on her blog:
I have read this author before, and her humour in adversity shines through every time. This knack makes what could be a depressing read into an inspiring one, and Meno-What? doesn’t disappoint. At 66 Kindle pages, this is a quick yet informative read.
xI would say this is a must-read for all women going through or approaching a certain stage of life: the menopause. I might go so far as to say that their loved ones should read this too! … Although, when I made the same suggestion to dear hubby, I received a noncommittal grunt in reply, lols.
xThe author tells us that “major body trauma or surgery can ignite the process.” Tick! And … “Those meno dragons can creep up on you like the night.” Tick! (Love that imagery.) And … “If you can’t laugh, there’s no fun in existing!” Tick!
xSome comments show the massive differences between healthcare in the UK and that in the US. For instance, many of us over this side of the pond can’t imagine having our own dermatologist or gynae person to go to at need. Apart from this difference in health care provision, the book and its examples is highly relatable.
xAs an amputee, I’m experiencing a whole new level of fun living with a false leg during hot sweats. Just yesterday, after the supposedly-tight-and-skin-gripping liner slipped off my residual limb three times in half an hour, and took my prosthetic with it mid-step, I decided to give myself a break and had a wheelchair day. As the author advises, seeing the funny side sure does help!
xReading this book had me chortling away throughout, as well as nodding in recognition. Honestly, I wish I’d read this a few years ago! While each experience of menopause is individual, there are some common truths that hold for us all, and this book is a wonderful reminder that we’re not alone, as well as offering some general advice from a lay perspective. This treat of a memoir gets a solid five stars from me.
If you know someone going through the menopause you might consider giving them this book. It’s packed full of the author’s honest account of her symptoms, the science behind them and tips and suggestions for making the situation more bearable which she shares with a humour that certainly would have helped me!
It’s a reassuring trip through the minefield of menopause and opens up a subject that was completely taboo for my mother’s generation. All women go through the menopause and it shouldn’t be something that is kept hidden like a guilty secret. We need more books like this.
xI made a new friend in my building and she’s a retired professional in higher education. She was so excited to learn I was an author and asked where she can buy my books. Of course, I gave her two. She was so kind, as she doesn’t fiddle much with computers, but she wrote three lovely reviews for three of my books, P.S. I Forgive You, Twenty Years: After “I Do”, and Conflicted Hearts:
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 February 2021
I read this as part of #ireadcanadian., @ireadcanadian #nowmorethanever.
This is such a hoot, what a laugh!
xHave Bags Will Travel is such an entertaining read which gives you an insight into D G Kaye’s character, her shopping obsession, packing troubles, germaphobia, and brushes with airport security. Enjoy her recollections on the glamour and glitz, her love to travel and a nostalgic aspect to it all.
xHer friend Zan shares her shopaholic tendencies too. The two of them together… can you imagine? A red head, blonde explosion of zaniness! I love the part when they end up at Buckingham Palace and chat to a Beefeater, the royal guard and after which… it gets funnier by the moment.
xHave Bags Will Travel gives a historical account of how much easier it used to be to take overstuffed baggage through airports in the good old days. Now, it seems that D G Kaye will resort to anything to get her shopping home.
xZan and D G Kaye also travel to Paris and end up shopping for shoes!
xThere are manmade toboggan rides in Muskoka, Canada.
xTrips to Venezuela: Margarita Island and Caracas with cousin Eileen.
xLas Vegas, Then and Now – gambling/casinos, fond memories of the author’s love of the desert.
xHave Bags Will Travel is just what we need right now, a good giggle! There is also a section at the back of the book with Helpful Travel tips.
xA short, entertaining read. Highly recommended, especially for the shopoholics and travel enthusiasts in your life!
I am grateful for all those interested in my books and for those who’ve taken the time to read, enjoy, and took more time to write reviews.
xSo what’s next? Well, as many of you already know, this year hasn’t been kind to me, in fact, my nightmares with my husband’s declining health began last year, just as I finished revising my latest memoir – Fifteen First Times. I never even got it sent to the editor before I lost all focus on book writing. With my husband’s ongoing illness, and then losing him to cancer this spring, and dealing with everything that comes after that and the suffocating grief I continue to live with, let’s just say that publishing wasn’t anything I could deal with. When I finally get away out of this space this winter, I plan on refreshing myself with the book and forwarding to my editor and to begin the publishing process for that book next spring.
xSince my husband’s illness and consequently, his death, I’ve been writing a lot about grief and poignant moments in very rough draft, as thoughts come to mind. Suffice it to say, without ‘technically’ writing a book, I’m already over 20K words in rough thoughts without even preparing for a book. I will continue writing and eventually turn the devastating situation I’m living, into a book whereby both, those who have and who are walking this journey can connect with, as well as being insightful for those lucky enough not to have walked in the shoes yet, to share through my experiences, about what to expect.
Welcome to the last post for the year for the WATWB – We are the World Blogfest. Each last Friday of the month, a group of writers contribute an article about something good going on in the world to deflect from so much of the negative going on in the world. For this month, I’m sharing my finding of a new App for the hearing impaired.
British High School senior, Mariella Satow, found herself stranded in New York during the pandemic and in between her online school classes she decided she wanted to teach herself how to do sign language. Later, Mariella couldn’t find one streaming platform that added sign language. Her determination to create something for the hearing impaired inspired her to create a Google Chrome Extension called Signup. This is a box that comes up that can be clicked on with some streaming services now that will bring up a sign language interpretation version for the chosen movie compatible with the app. Since Mariella created this, she is getting many requests for video translations. And since she created the app, others are getting the idea to create ‘Sign’ apps for many more streaming services.
Amazing how it only takes one concerned citizen to open up a new world for the hearing impaired. You can read the complete article at Goodnet HERE.
Here’s an example video of ‘Signup’ catching on with the American Sign Language for Ohio Citizens for Deaf Cultures
Come join us next year, the last Friday of each month. Find an inspiring article and share it for WATWB, then just add the link to our group post on our Facebook WATWB group page so others can share and read. Hosts this month for WATWB are:
Welcome back to my ‘Let’s Have a Look’ series where I talk about random subjects that grab my attention and give me pause. In today’s segment I want to talk about a question posed from a documentary I watched called Crazy, Not Insane.
This doc was created from the writings of forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis who worked on many cases involving serial killers and murderers. Dr. Lewis was a pioneer who began to question the makings of murderers – both notorious and not, stating that people aren’t born evil, but states when physically abused from childhood, those children grow up damaged, either recoiling from the world with their inflictions or taking on multiple personalities summoned by the child to help them endure living the nightmares of abuse. She was one of the first doctors to bring up the diagnosis of multiple personalities killers, diagnosing cases of Multiple Personality Disorder (aka Dissociative Identity Disorder). Dr. Lewis was summoned to many court cases to offer her opinion and diagnosis. She also believes that many killers who were physically abused had been left with integral parts of the brain damaged, which in part contributes to a killer’s motivations. For Dr. Lewis, it was all about the ‘why’ of the crime, more than the crime itself.
Dr. Lewis had taken a lot of flack for her diagnosis of multiple personalities over the years, and in this doc, she indicates – those in question of her work have been touted as heretics who believe the humanity of killers is non relevant.
Dr. Lewis basically states that her intentions when evaluating violent criminals are to assess where the rage stems from – because it always does stem from something, and she states that the criminal system is a one stop shop – prosecute, jail or execute without taking into consideration mental health inclusions. She by no means advocates to free these killers, but mostly speaks up about the decisions of execution. For the multitude of criminals in the system, they are punished for life and/or executed where she feels many of them should have been sent to a mental institution instead of executed.
This is all a very touchy situation as I can well understand that as a doctor of psychiatry that she would wish to get to the root of a convicted killer’s motivations, while at the same time states about the over abundance of criminals in the system where concern is not something that’s recognized in most cases about why someone acts out in violence, but resolve is to punish. This is the stance Dr. Lewis takes. Despite the skepticism of some of the doctor’s analysis of crazed killers, many agree that punishing by death penalty is not always just.
Below is the trailer for the documentary
I suppose the matter in question is that Lewis being called upon to testify in several reknowned serial killer cases with her expertise on such murderers seems confusing because she is asked for her professional opinions on such cases and feels as though her testimonials don’t figure into the punishments, whereby most of these types of trial outcomes never factor in any rehabilitation for these criminals, only punishment. Honestly, this is a toughie because in essence, the criminal justice system works to put murderers away as a justice, yet nobody seems to care about the whys of the criminals. I feel like the situations are double-edged swords, but the bottom line is to take these dangerous people off the streets. Sadly, these types of criminals aren’t usually seeking physciatric help before they kill, and once they kill, it’s understandable the people seek justice. If I put myself in the shoes of the loved ones left behind seeking justice for the murder of their loved ones, I should think that I too would be concentrating on justice, despite my agreeing that these killers obviously are damaged from some incidence.
The Sunday Movie Review – this movie caught me right out of left field. When I saw that The Father was released on Netflix starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman (The Crown), I couldn’t wait to watch it. I’ll also add that I had to put on my big girl pants to watch this heart grabbing story, but felt compelled to watch it, accompanied by a box of tissues.
A masterful performance by Anthony Hopkins in a heartwrenching role of The Father of Anne, played by Olivia Coleman.
My 5 Star Review:
This powerful story takes place in London where Anne has already taken in her father after realizing he shouldn’t be living on his own any longer, despite his stubborness. But Anthony (real name and movie name) still comes across as witty and intelligent – until he drifts into a lost person.
This is a heartbreaking character study movie, so don’t be looking for big plots and action. The premise is real and frightening and Hopkins gives the performance of his lifetime portraying a father with dementia. We get an internal look as we stand outside this box of grief and fear. The grief is what we feel from what we witness as this man continues to go back and forth from reality to his lost world of dementia and the grief we feel for his daughter Anne who remains compassionate, despite her moments of wanting to throw up her hands.
We take in the moments where Anthony’s fits of anger strike because his confusion annoys even himself. His verbal distaste for going into a home when suggested by Anne so she can take her opportunity to move to Paris, will have you, tugging at your own heartstrings.
The movie contains mostly dialogue and will have us the viewers just as confused as Anthony at some points as he trys to decipher the reality from his own dementia. The ending will rip what’s left of your heart out with Anthony’s vulnerability.
This movie portrays the brutal and raw realism of dementia, how one lives within himself with it and how those who are the caregivers live a living grief.
Most heartwrenching quote by Hopkins as he questions his own sanity:
Having just scared off his recent caregiver, Anthony, an ailing, octogenarian Londoner gradually succumbing to dementia, feels abandoned when concerned Anne, his daughter, tells him she’s moving to Paris. Confused and upset, against the backdrop of a warped perspective and his rapid, heart-rending mental decline, Anthony is starting to lose his grip on reality, struggling to navigate the opaque landscape of present and past. Now, as faded memories and glimpses of lucidity trigger sudden mood swings, dear ones, Anthony’s surroundings, and even time itself become distorted. Why has his younger daughter stopped visiting? Who are the strangers that burst in on Anthony?—Nick Riganas
A fantastic half hour interview with Sir Anthony Hopkins on the making of this film, how he felt in the role and how he prepared for it. Note: He played a man his own age of 84.
Welcome to November edition of Writer’s Tips where I scan the web in my reading travels and discover some worthy posts helpful to writers. In this post we’re covering, reusable blocks in the new editor, online privacy, avoiding four deadly writer sins, blog traffic, New! KDP Hardcovers, 5 Indie mistakes that could cost authors book sales, Audio books, and Pinterest for book marketing.
Hugh Roberts our resident Block Editor Guru is showing us how to create a ‘reusable’ block you can add ready made to any post and How to Increase Blog Traffic
Four Deadly Writer Sins and How to Avoid them, by Ruth Harris at the blog of Anne R. Allen. 5 Indie Author Mistakes that could lose you Book Sales by Tech Author, Barb Drozdowich at the blog of Anne R. Allen and the benefits of creating audio books by William Hahn, guest writer at the blog of Anne R. Allen
Like many things, our intentions don’t always come to fruition.
I know for months now I’ve been talking about my plans to go the U.K. as I anxiously awaited the arrival of my bestie to get here for a visit and my plans to fly back to the U.K. with her after. But sometimes plans change, and in my case, I’ve rearranged my plans and wanted to update you here, especially since I’ve chatted about my plans with several of my British and European friends in anticipation of meeting up with some of you.
So why the change of heart?
After losing my husband in April then moving in June, exhausted both mentally and physically, and full of grief, the only thing I wanted to do was to jump on a plane and get the hell out of Dodge. But Covid restrictions hampered those plans. Our airports didn’t open up to foreign travelers until early fall, and that kept my friend from getting here until late October. She will be leaving back for the U.K. without me, later this week. Besides the fact that U.K. is experiencing higher Covid numbers again, and that my intentions of staying in U.K/Europe for a good month or two would have had to have been cut shorter because it’s so late in the year already, the upcoming holidays, and my having to prepare for my winter vacation in Mexico beginning late January, my husband’s gravestone is not yet erected and I’ve been anxiously awaiting that to happen so I can plan a celebration of life gathering for him with our friends because he was ripped off of a proper large funeral gathering at the time of his passing.
I’m feeling very unsettled about the headstone going up without my being around to acknowledge it and my plans for a small gathering to honor my husband’s life once the stone goes up. It seems that even headstones are in delay due to the Covid. So with all those factors rolled into one, I decided it’s best for me not to take off right now. I can’t even believe that in two months I’ll be on my way back to Puerto Vallarta!
I’m already dreading the holidays here and wishing away December. But I’m very much looking forward to a winter escape to a familiar place where I can somehow still feel like my husband’s spirit will be with me. As a newly minted widow, the thought of going anywhere else this winter gave me anxiety with first time being alone again traveling after a quarter century of traveling as a couple. But I decided to go back to PV and stay at the same location as we always did because we have many Canadian snowbird friends who stay at the same location annually, and at this time in my life I’m grateful for the familiarity I will be in and I won’t be alone there. I’ll have friends to gab with at the pool and to join up with for outings. I’ll also be having a few of my friends from home come down for a stay, so I should be quite comfortable back in PV in the land of wonderful people, sunshine, the ocean and beautiful sunsets. And I will have new plans come next spring for visiting both the U.K. and Europe. So just know my friends, I will get there. And hopefully by then, the Covid will be less of a worry, and I’ll be traveling in a warmer season.
Welcome to my Sunday Book Review with an added bonus. Today I’m going to review Joan Didion’s book – The Year of Magical Thinking. But before I share my book review, I’m going to share an overview of the 2017 Documentary currently on Netflix – Joan Didion – The Center Will Not Hold, where 86 year old, literary icon, Joan, reflects on her intimate stories from her writing career and struggles, and her forty year marriage to author John Gregory Dunne, brother to author Dominick Dunne. The documentary was directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne.
My 5 Star Review Documentary Review:
Joan Didion was born December 5, 1934 in Sacremento, California. She’s an American novelist and essayist and screenwriter. Joan is known for her incisive depictions of social unrest. Joan says she began writing at the age of five and was a shy ‘bookish’ girl. She never considered herself a real writer until her first published book. Joan struggled with social anxiety and took up acting and public speaking to help ease her anxieties. As a young teen, she spent much of her time typing out books by Ernest Hemingway so she could learn how sentence structure worked. Joan had a sordid childhood as her dad was in the army during WWII, with moving a lot she didn’t attend school regularly until returning back to Sacremento in 1944.
After watching the documentary and learning about the demises of both her husband and her daughter Quintana, my heart went out to Joan and I was compelled to read her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, because she wrote it after John’s death. It was first published in 2005. In the documentary, Joan’s publicist talks about how he urged Joan to write her novel published in 2012 – Blue Nights, for both, John and Quintana.
John and Joan met in New York City when Joan won a poetry contest at her senior year in Berkeley for her essay, Prix de Paris, and the prize landed her a job as research assistant at Vogue. John wrote for Time Magazine at the time.
They bounced ideas off one another, each wrote their own books and essays, but they collaborated on screenplays together – Needle Park (1971 with Al Pacino) and A Star is Born (1976 Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Joan’s logline for Needle Park – “Romeo and Juliette as junkies.
In this documentary, we get a deep inside look at this author from her beginnings as a journalist writing hard stories, Joan would say that she writes about disorder because she’d then find the situation”less scary”. She wasn’t happy with the way some of her books were portrayed for movies, such as, Book of Common Prayer, complaining her characters were totally different than what she’d written.
Joan admits that much of what she writes contained pieces of her. Her interests in writing were mostly about stories of humanity and the bad things going on in the world. Her visit to El Salvador prompted her to write political stories and essays, and an eventual book called El Salvador. She talks about the lie of the Central Park 7 – propaganda spurred falsely in the accusation of the rape of a jogger in Central Park, N.Y. and on VP Dick Cheney, “Bully of the Bush war,” “He took the lemons, made lemonade, spilled, and made someone else cleanup.”
John and Joan kept a low profile in the celeb world. They adopted their daughter Quintana at birth. When Quintana was asked what kind of mom Joan was, she replied, “Okay, mostly remote.” Joan began questioning how parents are sometimes on auto-pilot and don’t realize child neglect.
In 2003, Quintana took ill and was rushed to hospital when she went into septic shock resulting from pneumonia, which turned worse and ultimately left her in a coma at the time of John’s death. John and Joan had just come home from visiting Quintana in hospital on December 30, 2003, and they were sick with worry about their daughter. Joan made dinner, the two sat down to eat when John had a massive, fatal heart attack. Later, looking in her husband’s closet with a friend to pack up his clothes, Joan said, “What if he comes back?” That was clearly a grief statement because I could so identify with not wanting to let go. After she wrote The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan said it was the hardest book to write, but had to write it to get through. I totally get that. She told herself that after writing the book she would learn to let go. This woman lost the love of her life while their daughter lay in a coma.
Months after Quintana’s recovery, she fell and hit her head, suffering a massive hematoma and resulting in six hours of brain surgery. As Quintana was recovering her major illnesses in 2004, she came down with Pancreatitis in 2005, and ultimately died from it in August 2005 at age 39. Didion wrote Blue Nights in 2011 for Quintana. That woman was broken.
Joan was/is a tiny woman, and after losing her family, her wonderful friends stepped up to take care of her and made sure she ate at her already weight of 75 pounds. Joan then wrote the play for the book The Year of Magical Thinking, which starred Vanessa Redgrave, in the nonfictional soliloquy.
Joan wrote Blue Nights after the play, about Quintana – a book she said she didn’t want to write. On her life when asked if she had regrets about things, she said, “The failure to plan for misfortune,” her guilt of failing as a mother.
In 2005 Didion won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and became a finalist for National Book Critics Circle Award. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her book, The Magical Year of Thinking. In 2015, President Obama awarded Joan with the Mastery of Style in Writing Award for exploring the culture around us and exposing the depths of sorrow and for her ‘startling honesty’.
“Everyone has moved on except the one left grieving.”
“See enough and write it down.”
“A journal – a forgotten account paid with interest.”
“Remember what it is to be me, that’s always the point.”
I recently finished reading Joan’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking. After seeing the documentary and having only read one other of Joan’s books, I felt compelled to read.
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion that explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage—and a life, in good times and bad—that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.
Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later—the night before New Year’s Eve—the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma.
This powerful book is Didion’ s attempt to make sense of the “weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness … about marriage and children and memory … about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.”
My 5 Star Review:
An accounting of love and loss. In this often, heartwrenching book, Joan Didion champions her once simple writing life alone, without her husband, best friend and consultant on all her writing. Joan reminisces on her life and writing with her husband John, always with her – writing, walking, traveling, filming – they did everything together, despite them both being individual writers, with the exception of a few collaborations.
Joan takes us through her life in vignettes as she shares memories of incidence on vacations the family took together, the circles of people they traveled with, their routines, when they adopted Quintana, motherhood, and mistakes. But most poignantly, Joan focuses on the time of John’s death, the surreal moments, the most insignificant things becoming big things, the most minutest details overlooked while she was living numb are being realized in this story. She begins her story with the the eve her and John went to visit Quintana in hospital, while she was in an induced coma. They were both worried sick about their daughter. Joan makes dinner, they sit down to eat and John has a fatal heart attack right in front of her on December 30, 2003. Her details are precise. She talks about her different kinds of grief, comparing the variation in grief between losing her parents, to how different her grief felt when John died. Joan shares what it was like waking up the next morning alone. She’ll take you right into her realizations. So identifiable for anyone who has ever deeply loved and lost. I know much of what Joan speaks, like not even remembering if we ate or not, mostly not. It’s a numbness that takes over to break the impact of the shock.
Joan bares herself with raw honesty on what grief leaves on someone, the stages of steps involved until reaching acceptance, but I wonder how many ever get there. Joan shares how she came to decisions about giving her loved one’s clothes away, as Joan in her denial stage held hope he may come back. Joan discusses her concern of having to break the news to Quintana about her father’s death, after she awakes from a long coma. Joan shares her fears about her daughter getting sick again overshadowing her grief – “Until now, I had been able only to grieve, not mourn. Grief was passive. Grief happened, Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention.”
Imagine trying to stay sane!
Joan Didion is an iconic writer. As a journalist, she followed stories of humanity, out in the field. She said it was easier to deal with war if she could see it. She’s a tiny frail woman who can barely move her hands now at age 86, but that doesn’t stop her from still using them to articulate what she speaks. She’s lived through hell and back TWICE, first losing the love of her life, then her daughter. I can only imagine the amount of courage it took to write about such pain. It’s not surprising this Warrior Woman has won so many awards. I was drawn to this book after watching a documentary about her, The Center Will Not Hold on Netflix after my own husband’s passing, and I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who have loved and lost.
Poignant Quotes that resonate:
“Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
The question of self-pity.”
“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.”
“I could not count the times during the average day when something would come up that I needed to tell him. This impulse did not end with his death.”
“Marriage is memory, marriage is time.”
“For forty years I saw myself through John’s eyes. I did not age. This year for the first time since I was twenty-nine I saw myself through the eyes of others.”
“I have trouble thinking of myself as a widow. I remember hesitating the first time I had to check that box on the ‘marital status’ part of a form.”
“I realized that for the time being I could not trust myself to present a coherent face to the world.”
“I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us.”
“I realize as I write this that I do not want to finish this account.”