|a serious read|
I have treasure in my apartment. It is hidden in closets and in boxes (treasure chests). It lines my shelves and covers many of my surfaces. My husband complains but….Oh well! In case you hadn't guessed, I am speaking of books. All of my life, I have made the acquaintance of characters; some fictional and some real. The "people" part of literature as with film interests me the most. In the 1970's, I first encountered The White Album by Joan Didion.
This week, I was interested to note in That's Not My Age that the fashion house Céline had chosen Didion as its "face." There was quite a lot of comment on the choice: Didion is 80 years old, lined and very thin. She habitually wears black turtle necks and very large dark glasses. Although she is well-known in literary and film circles, her name is not a household word.
In visiting my book closet yesterday, I discovered that I had purchased a copy of Blue Nights at Shakespeare and Company in Paris last year. Although I vow not to buy books, I still have weak moments. I have read all of Didion's nonfiction works and the book was prominently displayed. I had found lots of interesting books in my Paris rental last year so I carried my purchase home unread.
If you don't know much about Joan Didion, you could read A Year of Magical Thinking, Didion's account of the sudden death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, while her daughter, Quintana Roo, lay in a coma. Blue Nights is a sort of sequel to "Year" and deals with Quintana's death and Didion's realization that her own days are numbered.
This book is called "Blue Nights" because at the time I began it I found my mind turning increasingly to illness, to the end of promise, the dwindling of the days, the inevitability of the fading, the dying of the brightness. Blue nights are the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but they are also its warning.
The "Blue Nights" refers to the gloaming or "l'heure bleue" before darkness. Didion faces the "fear not of what has been lost but of what there is still to be lost." As she faces her own mortality, Didion observes and shares her experiences as a frail elderly woman who has lost her " baby girl."
Joan Didion is sensitive and courageous. Throughout her career, she has not only observed society but she has exposed her own weaknesses and fears. I like to think that it is because of this honesty that she has been chosen the "face of Céline." Whatever that really means.