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The Year of Magical Thinking

Joan Didion

Quiz

Study Questions and Essay Topics

Suggestions for Further Reading

1. Why does Didion refuse to give away John’s shoes?

2. Didion tries and fails to locate a poem about “Mr. Death” and a “blue-eyed boy” by which poet?

3. What delays the arrival of the autopsy report and emergency room record?

4. Didion is associated with what literary group?

5. When John collapses, what is Didion’s immediate instinct?

6. What is the one place in Los Angeles where Didion feels safe, even though she associates it with John and Quintana?

7. What destination does John insist on visiting, fearing that it will be last time he will get to go?

8. What does Didion call the experience of having tragedy occur when you least expect it?

9. What is consecrated in the final lines in the poem “Rose Aylmer”?

10. What concept, inspired by Joe and Gertrude Black, did John write about on the day of his death?

11. What is the strategy that Didion employs to help her deal with her fear of injuring herself?

12. What leads to Quintana’s first coma?

13. What is the name of the classical drama by Euripides that Didion turns to while thinking about the concept of the divide between life and death?

14. Which instance involving flowers does not appear in the book?

15. What helped Didion confront the idea of meaninglessness as a child?

16. What upsets Didion when she receives a call from the hospital the day after John’s death?

17. Which of the following books by John Gregory Dunne is not quoted in The Year of Magical Thinking?

18. What is the first writing assignment Didion accepts after the tragedies?

19. After participating in which of the following unusual activity with Didion does John express his enthusiasm for trying new things?

20. What causes the “apprehension of death” that Didion experiences while walking down West Fifty-seventh Street in New York?

21. What is the name of the strange test used to test memory and comprehension in patients coming out of a coma?

22. John whispers what line from the film Robin and Marian to Quintana while she lies in a coma?

23. Which literary hero, who has a premonition of his own death, does Didion compare to John?

24. What causes Didion to become upset while covering the Democratic Convention at the Fleet center?

25. What is the name of the singing group from Princeton that John enjoyed mocking?

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