John Leonard says "I've been trying for four decades to figure out why her sentences are better than mine or yours...something about cadence." Lean, commaless prose has always been Didion's trademark, but in The Year of Magical Thinking she pares her sentences down as if she is re-learning how to put words together. Having been blindsided by a loss she deluded herself into believing would not occur, her life now depends on eliminating falsehoods.
The Year of Magical Thinking is a compelling read, as we follow Didion through the failure of her belief system to sustain her in extreme stress, to her derangement and the gradual integration of her understanding of her tragedy into a more reliable vision. Along the way, she reveals the communality of grief by describing in searing detail how raw emotional pain can engulf even the most defended and privileged among us.