If you are in the fortunate position of never having to witness someone you love die then this is not a book for you to read … yet. However if you have ever grieved, or are in the process of grieving, please read this book, death and grief are the greatest taboos in western society and this book carefully deconstructs this taboo in moving and unself-indulgent prose.
If you don’t know the story, on the 30th December 2003, Joan Didion’s and John Gregory Dunne’s only child, Quintana, was desperately ill, possibly dying, in a New York hospital. Her parents spent the day with her at the hospital. Later that evening, as they sat down to dinner, John suffered a fatal heart attack. Although Quintana recovered from her illness, two months later, following a collapse, she underwent life saving brain surgery and in this book Joan Didion tries to make sense of these events. The result is an intensely moving and graceful meditation on all the emotions of grief, incredulity, anger, sadness, depression,etc. which is both personal and wise.
In one extremely sad footnote to the book Quintana died just after the book was completed.