I first read THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING in 2006. I read it in two days. I think I read it in two days. I don’t know if this is true, but that’s the way I remember it. Two days.
Since then I’ve listened to it on audio no less than 5 times. If you follow this blog, you know this is not unusual and you won’t be surprised to learn that I’m listening to it yet again. Every time I hear it, I appreciate something new. Last time around it was the circular motion of the narrative, how she makes you feel like you’re spinning around in the memory vortex with her, and how the constant repetition of these lines keeps you in her grasp:
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
You’re safe. I’m here.
I tell you that I shall not live two days, Gawain said.
Why do you always have to be right. Why do you always have to have the last word. For once in your life just let it go.
This time I’m focused on the simplicity — the seeming simplicity — of her sentences. In her 2006 interview for The Paris Review, Ms. Didion talked about how she admired Hemingway from an early age (11 or 12): “There was just something magical to me in the arrangement of those sentences. Because they were so simple — or rather they appeared to be so simple, but they weren’t.”
Amen. I’m off to walk my dogs around the neighborhood and listen (learn) some more.