Blue Nights - Joan Didion

“’Like when someone dies, you don’t dwell on it,’” Joan Didion recalls her daughter telling her. But while this is one of the recurrent mantras of Blue Nights (Knopf, $25), Didion’s companion volume to The Year of Magical Thinking, she finds that whatever she thinks about—writing, films, friends, travels—she is indeed dwelling on the death of her daughter, Quintana Roo. What does it mean for a parent to suffer such a tragedy? Didion poses the question in myriad ways and is repeatedly stunned by the answers. Some take her back to Quintana’s childhood, and Didion probes the past for clues to later events. Others force her to face a future—rapidly becoming the present—in which there’s no one to summon “in case of emergency.” Turning 75 as she writes, Didion examines the nearly complete sweep of her life, and brings this poignant, powerful essay full circle as she realizes the truth of another of the book’s refrains, which is that “when we talk about mortality we are talking about our children.”

Blue Nights: A Memoir By Joan Didion Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780307387387
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Vintage - May 29th, 2012

The Arrogant Years - Lucette Lagnado

Lucette Lagnado’s 2007 memoir, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, was a narrative of her family’s wrenching exile from Nasser’s anti-Semitic 1960s Cairo, filtered through the lens of her dashing, charismatic father. Lagnado’s second memoir, The Arrogant Years (Ecco, $14.99), covers similar terrain, but from the point of view of her mother, who was something of a footnote in the first volume. This is a poignant story of immigrant Brooklyn, of summers at Brighton Beach, Ocean Parkway synagogues, and of the longing to belong. Vignettes about the author’s attempt to find a kosher meal at Vassar, and of her mother’s fierce embrace of her job as a clerk at the Brooklyn Public Library, give this book a rich emotional texture.

Lucette Lagnado’s 2007 memoir, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, was a narrative of her family’s wrenching exile from Nasser’s increasingly anti-Semitic 1960s Cairo, filtered through the lens of her dashing, charismatic father. Her extraordinary gift for storytelling left the reader with an almost proprietary attachment to the characters, particularly to her long-suffering mother, who was something of a footnote in that book. Lagnado’s new memoir, The Arrogant Years (Ecco, $25.99), fills in those gaps and much more, with a rich, vivid portrait of immigrant life in Brooklyn and of the author’s own excruciating coming-of-age, which included battling cancer.

The Arrogant Years: One Girl's Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn By Lucette Lagnado Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780061803697
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco - April 17th, 2012

Thoughts Without Cigarettes - Oscar Hijuelos

This memoir from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Oscar Hijuelos tells the story of his Cuban-American upbringing in New York City as his immigrant parents charted their own path in a new country. One fascinating subtext of Thoughts Without Cigarettes (Gotham, $27.50) deals with a serious illness Hijuelos experienced as a child and the pressures his condition exerted on a family already under strain. Hijuelos is best when describing how, trapped for years in a stifling job at an advertising agency, he latched onto his passion for writing, along with a few mentors who shepherded him along. I loved the honesty of the book, and the vivid and unvarnished memories Hijuelos shares even if, at times, I felt there were holes in the story.

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