Streams

Joan Didion's Blue Nights

Monday, January 02, 2012

Joan Didion discusses her latest book, Blue Nights, about losing her daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne. She reflects on her fears and doubts about having children, her daughters fears and challenges, illness and death, and her own thoughts on growing old.

Guests:

Joan Didion

Comments [4]

Laura from New Jersey

I think some of the comments previously entered are pretty mean spirited about Joan Didion, and whether or not she 'should' have written this book. However I did find that this was an extremely strange interview - and her affect was extremely flat - Leonard Lopate really had to pull things out of her... it was very hard to listen to this - I finally gave up. I have heard her in the past - especially talking about her previous book - and found the interview fascinating, so I went online to listen as I only had time to hear Leonards opening intro live. I would suggest that anyone who is looking to hear an interview with Joan Didion on this book keep moving along.

Jan. 03 2012 09:07 AM
Candida Worthington from Manhattan

Here's a few comments about the release of Blue Nights shared via NYMag.com/arts/books back in Oct 2011:

"Didion is an gold medal narcissist. Look at it in her face, her deathly cool self-obsession. She wrote the book to "get IT off her mind?" how telling. IT? Funny name for a daughter. Face it: There was no room in her life/drama for a beautiful daughter full of life who would draw attention away from Didion (look at the daughter at age 8 or 9 and see a vibrant life force that would outshine her mother in a matter of time). I could barely stomach the narcissistic prose bleating about her husband's death. No one could/would out live her. Her daughter would die before her, she had to, it was an unspoken rule, there was not room for both of them. Didion is surrounded by enablers. And yes, she can write, well, but who can read IT?" - Candida Worthington

"Why do people care about such stupid, self-indulgent, abusive people? Why does anyone want to enter the world of these precious non-entities? And it is sad how the psychological abuse of the daughter is glossed over. Instead we are supposed to be fascinated, somehow, by these people's oh-so-important "work". I just don't get it." - JS7

"It's hard to believe someone as bright as Didion could really be so clueless as to why her daughter was so 'troubled'.

As an adopted adult, I can tell you that Quintana was hardly unique. THOUSANDS of adoptees cannot make sense of the abandonment, the unacknowledged grief of losing their families,and the weathering the shift a CHILD must make into a family of strangers. Adoptees overpopulate residential treatment centers, prisons, etc. We are not an emotionally healthy lot.

Didion really ought to consider psychologist David Kirschner's theory 'adopted child syndrome' to understand her daughter, as opposed to the tired 'bi polar disorder' explaination. Everything Quintana lived through as a depressed child and a lost adult is outlined in the lifelong work of the late Betty Jean Lifton and adoptive mother and author Nancy Verrier's book, "The Primal Wound".

Didion claiming ignorance as to why her daughter was so emotionally pained is frustrating to those of us who have experienced life much like Quintana did, no matter who we came from, or to whom we were given to: the commonality is *being* adopted. It really is a life long condition as opposed to an 'event'."- Michelle Booth

Jan. 02 2012 06:44 PM
WestVillageVet

Is this a repeat? I recently heard this, or a very similar interview and cannot believe this woman is given so much airtime.

Didion may be considered a "great" writer to some but to hear her morose, flat, soulless voice going on and on about the death of her daughter (another depressive-big surprise, why do they opt to have a family?!) and other bleak family tragedies completely kills the enjoyment of listening to the radio. Worse is the poor scheduling timing having her on now, crushing the spirit of the New Year where we are so full of enthusiasm, possibility, hope.

I don't 'get' Mr. Lopate's overdone interest in Didion (even being a huge empath) because I every time I hear her interviewed by him or read about her stories in print, I cannot glean anything unique nor special about her extreme grief. She seems brings him down and drags him around the pit of her misery, leaving awkward moments we listeners endure hoping the interview will finally end and something useful, fascinating or at least mildly life-affirming will come on.

For an author of her stature, it confounds me she really has bothered to open up about her private pain and goes on this type of speaking tour, because it isn't really so unique...I say this because me, and friends have had more our "fair share" of pain in our relatively young lives and could tell stories that would melt your mind and break your heart a million times over. Our personal stories are just as deep and profound in scope but we don't subject others to by writing a book then go on tour basking in the comforting glow of fame. Were she able to turn it into dark humour or satire or even express a type of poignant, poetic release or beautiful anger I'd be open to lending an eager ear, but the go-nowhere, pointless, self-absorbed misery is quite too much. To be frank, I'm honestly surprised she hasn't committed suicide being in such a state, obviously a reality only a hair away. What's stopping her if she doesn't want to change, embrace life, doesn't appear to be on any other trajectory other than death first by spirit, then by physical form? Do we really need to hear her story simply because she's a famous author?

In the future, *please* consider dedicate what precious airtime you have for interviewees that are actually ~alive~ and have something valuable to offer. The world is brimming with new life and wonderful voices with stories aching to be heard. We need more light, not gloom!

Jan. 02 2012 06:35 PM
Ken from Soho

What kind of name is "Quintana Roo"?????

Jan. 02 2012 01:39 PM

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