Flare talks with author Joan Didion about her most recent work, The Year of Magical Thinking
How was finishing The Year of Magical Thinking different than your other novels?
“Since The Year of Magical Thinking wasn’t [exactly] a novel, finishing it wasn’t [the same as] finishing a novel. It was a question of finding a rhythm and letting it flow – there weren’t blocks of research or information I absolutely had to include – it was more a matter of making and carrying a mood.”
What sentiments did you feel while writing this book?
“As I said in the book, I didn’t want to finish it. For as long as I was writing it, John was close to me. Finishing [the book] meant letting go.”
Did writing about the past better prepare you for the future?
“I was actually writing about the present. I was living the last three months of the year even as I was writing the book.”
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
“The only advice I know for young writers is just to do it. Write and write and above all rewrite. All writing is rewriting, so don’t be afraid to rewrite.”
What are you currently working on?
“Right now I am working on a piece for the theatre based on The Year of Magical Thinking. This is tremendously interesting to me because I’ve never worked in the theatre. After that, too far to tell – I don’t think in long spans of time.
What are you currently reading?
What I want to read next is a book about [J.] Robert Oppenheimer published this year, American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin.
What book do you recommend?
“I actually can’t answer this question. One person’s “must read” is another’s “already been there” and a third person’s “don’t care”. Sometimes I think reading is our last entirely personal activity.”
Click here for more on Joan Didion’s book The Year of Magical Thinking, and for a comprehensive reading guide for your book club.