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Extended Audio Sample Blue Nights, by Joan Didion Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (8,564 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joan Didion Narrator: Kimberly Farr Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From one of our most powerful writers, a work of stunning frankness about losing a daughter. Richly textured with bits of her own childhood and married life with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo, this new book by Joan Didion examines her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding having children, illness, and growing old.
 
Blue Nights opens on July 26, 2010, as Didion thinks back to Quintana’s wedding in New York seven years before. Today would be her wedding anniversary. This fact triggers vivid snapshots of Quintana’s childhood—in Malibu, in Brentwood, at school in Holmby Hills. Reflecting on her daughter but also on her role as a parent, Didion asks the candid questions any parent might about how she feels she failed either because cues were not taken or perhaps displaced. “How could I have missed what was clearly there to be seen?” Finally, perhaps we all remain unknown to each other. Seamlessly woven in are incidents Didion sees as underscoring her own age, something she finds hard to acknowledge, much less accept.
 
Blue Nights—the long, light evening hours that signal the summer solstice, “the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but also its warning”—like The Year of Magical Thinking before it, is an iconic book of incisive and electric honesty, haunting and profoundly moving. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “In this supremely tender work of memory, Didion is paradoxically insistent that as long as one person is condemned to remember, there can still be pain and loss and anguish.”

    Vanity Fair

  • “Darkly riveting…The cumulative effect of watching her finger her recollections like beads on a rosary is unexpectedly instructive. None of us can escape death, but Blue Nights shows how Didion has, with the devastating force of her penetrating mind, learned to simply abide.”

    Elle

  • “Breathtaking…With harrowing honesty and mesmerizing style, Didion chronicles the tragic death of her daughter, Quintana, interwoven with memories of their happier days together and Didion’s own meditations on aging.”

    Newsweek

  • “Haunting.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Honest, unflinching, necessarily solipsistic, and, in the way of these things, self-lacerating…Certainly as a testament of suffering nobly borne, which is what it will be generally taken for, it is exemplary. However, [Blue Nights] is most profound, and most provocative, at another level, the level at which the author comes fully to realize, and to face squarely, the dismaying fact that against life’s worst onslaughts nothing avails, not even art; especially not art.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • A haunting memoir . . . Didion is, to my mind, the best living essayist in America . . . What appears on the surface to be an elegantly, intelligently, deeply felt, precisely written story of the loss of a beloved child is actually an elegantly, intelligently, deeply felt, precisely written glimpse into the abyss, a book that forces us to understand, to admit, that there can be no preparation for tragedy, no protection from it, and so, finally, no consolation . . . The book has . . . an incantatory quality: it is a beautiful, soaring, polyphonic eulogy, a beseeching prayer the is sung even as one knows the answer to one’s plea, and that answer is: No. Cathleen Schine, The New York Review of Books
  • Blue Nights, though as elegantly written as one would expect, is rawer than its predecessor, the ‘impenetrable polish’ of former, better days now chipped and scratched. The author as she presents herself here, aging and baffled, is defenseless against the pain of loss, not only the loss of loved ones but the loss that is yet to come: the loss, that is, of selfhood. The book will be another huge success . . . Certainly as a testament of suffering nobly borne, which is what it will be generally taken for, it is exemplary. However, it is most profound, and most provocative, at another level, the level at which the author comes fully to realize, and to face squarely, the dismaying fact that against life’s worst onslaughts nothing avails, not even art; especially not art. John Banville, The New York Times Book Review
  • The marvel of Blue Nights is that its 76-year-old, matchstick-frail author has found the strength to articulate her deepest fears—which are fears we can all relate to. Heller McAlpin, The Wasthington Post
  • The Week magazine's 5 Best Non-Fiction Books of 2011
  • The master of American prose turns her sharp eye on her own family once again in this breathtaking follow-up to The Year of Magical Thinking. With harrowing honesty and mesmerizing style, Didion chronicles the tragic death of her daughter, Quintana, interwoven with memories of their happier days together and Didion’s own meditations on aging. Malcolm Jones and Lucas Wittmann, Newsweek
  • A searing memoir People
  • Darkly riveting . . . The cumulative effect of watching her finger her recollections like beads on a rosary is unexpectedly instructive. None of us can escape death, but Blue Nights shows how Didion has, with the devastating force of her penetrating mind, learned to simply abide. Louisa Kamps, Elle
  • A scalpel-sharp memoir of motherhood and loss . . . Now coping with not only grief and regret but also illness and age, Didion is courageous in both her candor and artistry, ensuring that this infinitely sad yet beguiling book of distilled reflections and remembrance is graceful and illuminating in its blue musings. Donna Seaman, Booklist
  • Brilliant...Nothing Didion has written since Play It As It Lays seems to me as right and true as Blue Nights. Nothing she has written seems as purposeful and urgent to be told. Joe Woodward, Huffington Post
  • “[Didion] often finds captivating, unparalleled grooves. Her expansive thinking…is particularly striking. The A. V. Club
  • The reader only senses how intimately she understands her instrument. Her sentences are unquestionably taut, rhythmic and precise. Time Out NY
  • A searing, incisive look at grief and loss by one of the most celebrated memoirists of our time. Relevant Magazine
  • "Both Fascinating and heartbreaking. Marie Claire
  • “Yes, this is a book about aging and about loss. Mostly, though, it is about what one parent and child shared—and what all parents and children share, the intimacy of what bring you closer and what splits you apart.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Didion’s bravest work. It is a bittersweet look back at what she’s lost, and an unflinching assessment of what she has left.”

    BookPage

  • “Didion has created something luminous amid her self-recrimination and sorrow. It’s her final gift to her daughter—one that only she could give.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Exquisite…She applies the same rigorous standards of research and meticulous observation to her own life that she expects from herself in journalism. And to get down to the art of what she does, her sense of form is as sharp as a glass-cutter’s, and her sentences fold back on themselves and come out singing in a way that other writers can only wonder at and envy.”

    Washington Independent Review of Books

  • “For the great many of us who cherish Joan Didion, who can never get enough of her voice and her brilliant, fragile, endearing, pitiless persona, [Blue Nights] is a gift.”

    Newsday

  • “Didion has translated the sad hum of her thoughts into a profound meditation on mortality. The result aches with a wisdom that feels dreadfully earned.”

    Economist

  • “Profoundly moving…This is first and last a meditation on mortality.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Joan Didion is a brilliant observer, a powerful thinker, a writer whose work has been central to the times in which she has lived. Blue Nights continues her legacy.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Incantatory…A beautiful condolence note to humanity about some of the painful realities of the human condition.”

    Washington Post

  • Selected for the December 2011 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2011 Barnes & Noble Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2011 Publishers Weekly Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2011 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Nonfiction
  • One of the 2011 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Patricia Geller | 2/19/2014

    " This book made me feel more for my parents. I couldn't go near the death of a child. Joan Didion is so in her head, so though the book recounts her pain, it is a leap to feel it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Fay | 2/4/2014

    " Beautiful, but so so sad.....and difficult. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Andrea | 1/29/2014

    " "When we lose that sense of the possible we lose it fast." "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Kara | 1/23/2014

    " Depressing at best. Completely scattered "

  • > Show All
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