Blue Nights is a haunting memoir about the death of Joan Didion’s daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne Michael, at the age of thirty-nine...is something quite different. Blue Nights describes Didion’s descent into the inevitability of living in a world not only without her husband, not only without her daughter, but, finally, without hope ...about what happens when there are no more stories we can tell ourselves, no narrative to guide us and make sense out of the chaos, no order, no meaning, no conclusion to the tale ...a beautiful, soaring, polyphonic eulogy, a beseeching prayer that is sung even as one knows the answer to one’s plea, and that answer is: No ... Memories — even these memories, the ones she has collected in this book — are as fragile and complicated and beautiful...a deeply moving elegy to that void.
Blue Nights is a devastating companion volume to Magical Thinking, a beautiful condolence note to humanity about some of the painful realities of the human condition that deserves to be printed on traditional black-bordered mourning stationery ...she summons her signature spare, plainspoken prose and assertive two- or three-word paragraphs to powerful effect ...also relies, sometimes to a fault, on an almost incantatory use of structural repetition... As if shuffling the clues for a fresh take on the insoluble riddle of how Quintana’s story might have had a different ending, she returns repeatedly to the same few scenes from her daughter’s unusual childhood ... Didion’s main subject, however, is not the tragedy of Quintana’s curtailed life, but of Didion’s current sorry state. Her self-portrait is unsparing ... The marvel of Blue Nights is that its 76-year-old, matchstick-frail author has found the strength to articulate her deepest fears.
In her new book, Blue Nights, the 76-year-old author has pieced together literary snapshots, and retrieved memories about her daughter's life and death ... Her prose, in the past, just gleamed — terse, elegant, understated and piercing. The new book is what's left, after loss ... Most of Didion's books contain little mantras — quick phrases, repeated here and there throughout the text ... In Blue Nights, Didion writes that in theory, these mementos should bring back the moment, but in fact, they only make clear how inadequately she appreciated the moment back when it happened ... It's a way to get through harrowing times and unimaginable losses.