Joan Didion Reads From New Memoir, Blue Nights, in Short Film Directed by Griffin Dunne

A mere twen­ty months after Joan Did­ion’s hus­band, John Gre­go­ry Dunne, died of a heart attack, Did­ion’s only child, Quin­tana Roo Dunne, con­tract­ed pneu­mo­nia, lapsed into sep­tic shock and passed away. She was only 39 years old. Did­ion grap­pled with the first death in her 2005 best­seller, The Year of Mag­i­cal Think­ing. Now, with her new mem­oir Blue Nights, she turns to her child’s pass­ing, to a par­en­t’s worst fear real­ized. In this short film shot by her nephew, direc­tor Grif­fin Dunne, Did­ion reads from Blue Nights. The scene opens with mem­o­ries from her daugh­ter’s wed­ding and ends with some big exis­ten­tial ques­tions and the refrain, “When we talk about mor­tal­i­ty we are talk­ing about our chil­dren.”

This “audio­book for the eyes,” as Grif­fin Dunne calls it, runs six plus min­utes. (You can watch anoth­er seg­ment here.) The actu­al Blue Nights audio book is now avail­able on Audi­ble, and you can snag a free copy via this long­stand­ing deal.

A big thanks goes to @opedr for send­ing the Did­ion clip our way…


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.