Joan Didion is known for doing her homework. Her non-fiction is well-researched, and this, hand in hand with her penetrating mind and incisive use of the language, provide pleasurable reading like few other living writers can provide.
This is the case with The Year of Magical Thinking. But here, the focus is on the inexorable process of grieving, and Didion takes it on like a case study of how the mind works as it tries to wrap itself around the unthinkable. This makes the book a bit maddening. Didion moves around the same topics, picking them apart, breaking them down, reenacting them again and again like thought experiments.
Yet the effect is mesmerizing. Didion comes very close to getting down in writing an experience that makes every effort to escape from our ability to capture it in writing; to conceptualize and understand its immensity.