Quintana Roo Dunne, John Gregory Dunne, and Joan Didion, Malibu, California, 1976
Blue Nights is a story of loss: simple, wrenching, inconsolable loss. The absence of Quintana becomes the most present thing in Didion’s life. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” Didion famously wrote in The White Album. Blue Nights is about what happens when there are no more stories we can tell ourselves, no narrative to guide us and make sense out of the chaos, no order, no meaning, no conclusion to the tale. The book has, instead, an incantatory quality: it is a beautiful, soaring, polyphonic eulogy, a beseeching prayer that is sung even as one knows the answer to one’s plea, and that answer is: No.