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Novelist and essayist, Joan Didion, answered questions read excerpts from her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, to a full audience which included Amy Gutmann.

Joan Didion's National Book Award-winning book, The Year of Magical Thinking, speaks of the difficulties of coming to terms with the death of one's loved ones.

As part of the yearly Fellows program at the Kelly Writers House, Didion read excerpts from her latest nonfiction novel, which details an account of the year following her husband's death. Didion is an "eminent" American novelist and journalist, according to faculty director of the Writers House Al Filreis.

"I'm going to read 'til I get tired," Didion said, prefacing her reading of the book.

"The way I write is a reflection of who I am or who I have become," she noted before proceeding to share the inner-working details of her mental and emotional state.

Didion described how, five years ago, her husband suddenly died of a heart attack in the middle of a normal dinner conversation.

"John was talking and then he wasn't," described Didion.

According to the memoir, it was a "massive coronary event."

They were both writers and both worked at home prior to the tragedy.

The term "magical thinking" refers indeed to the obsessiveness of grief, which may induce delusionary thinking and perhaps moments of insanity, she said.

At the end of the reading, Didion commented on the difficulty of writing about someone else. "The way they see you is not going to be the same way you see yourself," she explained.

Before the event, students in the Kelly Writers House Fellows class, taught by Filreis, got the unique opportunity to sit down with Didion and discuss her book. The course is unique in that undergraduates get to read a writer's work and then meet him or her at the end of the class.

Jamie-Lee Josselyn, coordinator of the Fellows program, remarked that there is "something very precise" about Joan's writing. Her book is one of the strongest models for writing about mourning, she added.

College sophomore Kristen Martin said she thinks Didion's book is so reassuring to so many people because "she makes you understand that that's not the way life works."

"She says it's okay if there's no answer," Martin added.

Filreis noted the way The Year of Magical Thinking pinpoints the irrationality and illogical way of thinking that follows grief.

"Seems like yesterday," said Didion, referencing her husband's death. For Didion, grief is no easy road.

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