Saturday, August 26, 2006

reading list

I read Joan Didion's THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING last week. It had been on my book pile for quite some time but I had not had the time and quiet to give it the reading it deserved. I am a great admirer of Didion's writing. I first encountered her when my mother was reading her novel PLAY IT AS IT LAYS. I thought the cover, with a willowy-thin model-y looking woman on the cover, cigarette in hand, was too cool. And Didion herself, with her frail, ethereal features and huge trembling mouth has always fascinated me. She's so mysterious. She lost her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, suddenly, at a time when their daughter was in a coma. He had a massive heart attack as he sat at the dinner table on the day before New Year's Eve. Their daughter died after the book was finished. It described her year, the first year without her husband and partner (they wrote numerous film scripts together and both worked at home as writers virtually their entire married life and they were rarely ever apart. It was like my Tuna and Pomona. Always together). And theirs was, in many ways, a charmed life, though how suffused with sadness. But it somehow reminded me of how her sadness was pillowed, in a way; unlike so many people, her security was never called into question. Flying on the Concorde to Paris, chartering a private plane to take her ill daughter from California to New York; for most people these things would be impossible and other, smaller tragedies would mark the trajectory of the decline into old age that she finds herself in. But perhaps that is a point she is making. "Don't feel sorry for me" could be the subtitle.

I decided that by the time I have been in NYC twenty years (this is fast approaching) I want to find the way to be out of it for the most part. If I make a plan thoughtfully I have no doubt that I will not follow through. I am good at that, making plans and following through with them.

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