The Problem of Self-Pity

Life changes fast
Life changes in an instant
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends
The problem of self-pity

        – Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking (2005)

There was an appropriately fumbling piece earlier this week in the Financial Times about a lunch interview with Joan Didion concerning her laceratingly fine The Year of Magical Thinking. A book that seems less written than etched line-by-painful-line via x-ray lithography, it is the best thing that Didion — who had become an increasingly mannered writer in recent years — has written in a decade or more. Granted, it is not upbeat holiday reading, but it is still bracingly human in its unswerving gaze at grief and our errant (and ineffective) attempts at consolation through misdirection.