Readers des Didion's recent memoir des grieving produziert daughter, Blue Nights, might be forgiven weil das remaining rather unclear, also upon finishing ns book, as kommen sie what specifically killed Quintana Roo Dunne Michaels. Quintana, who Didion frequently calls Q, was bei 2005 a freshly married new York-based picture editor in apparent an excellent health. She dropped into bei extended illness und died at die age von 39.

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Some critics certainly seem zu be a little less than clear on die events the took place. Die Times publication Review composed that Quintana dropped ill "from a viral infection that had actually turned right into pneumonia," before emerging acute pancreatitis. The Daily wrote nur that Quintana Roo was "struck by a series von illnesses." the Boston Globe stated that "a battery of arcane physical problems that included a cerebral hemorrhage and pancreatitis" caused die death. Amy Wilentz mentions just "a number des chronic and acute illnesses" and vague "emergency medical problems." the writer Amy Ephron wrote in her piece zum the Los angeles Review des Books the Quintana "fell right into a kind of semi-conscious zustand induced by in infection the turned into septicemia (I think — it's not really clear exactly what occurred)." (Emphasis mine.) the mysterious illness and possible sepsis "spiraled into a condition" that "resulted an Quintana Roo's tragic, untimely death."

Everyone's clear the she died. But was it pneumonia, septicemia, a virus, bei infection, a famous infection, a cerebral hemorrhage, or acute pancreatitis? A certain amount des confusion is probably inevitable: Quintana was ill weil das nine months, und was hospitalized numerous times weil das various conditions, native which complications climate arose. Und the book is a memoir, notfall a clinical play-by-play. Yet Didion doesn't help matters über being herself very vague. The words "acute pancreatitis" do notfall appear an Blue Nights. Neither does "pancreatitis" alone. Nor does "septicemia," "septic," or "sepsis." There are no find results for "pneumonia." the words "cerebral hemorrhage" execute appear, as soon as — an reference not to Quintana, but to Didion's grandmother, who died of one hinweisen age 75.

New York, i beg your pardon profiled Didion nur before die book's november release, uses what might be the most finish account, weil das what it's worth. "Mystery surrounded die sequence des events," notes ns magazine. Die "mysterious" illness began when, bei December von 2003,


Didion's neu Blue Nights zu sein Elegiac yet UnsatisfyingThere room some authors who go into our awareness at nur the appropriate time and remain firmly lodged…

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Quintana was rushed to die hospital with die flu and a fever of 103. Over ns next few days she developed pneumonia, then septic shock. She made it through 50-50 odds however remained in intensive care...Quintana had zu be called three times that herstellung father had died — twice in January, together she drifted an and out von consciousness, und once more at UCLA medical Center ns following spring. Ns family ultimately held a funeral for Dunne, also at St. John the Divine, on march 23, 2004. 2 days later, Quintana flew out to California with produziert husband — "to restart their life," together Didion wrote an Magical Thinking. Wie man Didion claimed good-bye, Quintana appeared anxious. While leaving ns airport in Los Angeles, she fell down with a cerebral hemorrhage. One more month des touch-and-go hospitalization left herstellung partially paralyzed. ~ recovering yet again, she come down v acute pancreatitis in the late spring von 2005. She passed away on ehrenvoll 26.

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And lo, a new piece von the puzzle, courtesy des Jennifer Matesa, composing at ns Fix:

Quintana died at 39 of acute pancreatitis. Die U.S. National Library of medizin reports the 70 percent von cases des acute pancreatitis bei the U.S. Space due to "alcoholism and alcohol abuse." an a 2009 article titled, "It's ns Alcohol, Stupid," authors writing zum a natur Publishing kopieren, gruppe journal state, "Overuse des alcohol ist a major cause of acute und chronic pancreatitis an both developed and developing countries. … an extensive overconsumption of alcohol weil das 5-10 years typically precedes the anfangsverdacht attack von acute alcoholic pancreatitis."

It would certainly take a net site dedicated zu writing about addiction und recovery to notice that the rare "acute pancreatitis" ist strongly linked to alcoholism. (Tellingly, the mnemonic physicians apparently use zu remember die condition's causes is "I gain SMASHED.") go alcoholism death Quintana? Didion writes reasonably frankly about Quintana's alcohol dependency in Blue Nights, und has ad to herstellung late daughter together "an alcoholic" in interviews. Viel of the book explores Quintana's history of mental health and wellness problems, i beg your pardon date rückseitig to her childhood, und Didion's judgment des what she sees to be her own parental failures.

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Didion ist of prozess free to remember, und to grieve for, her daughter an whatever method she judges best. Und to tell everything story of produziert life und death that she wishes; it's herstellung book. However we too are free to ask specifically how this veil that she has actually discreetly drawn over ns causes of produziert daughter's fatality serves Didion's readers. Bei a publication that ist ostensibly about produziert daughter's death and which is largely a memoir des the nine months of produziert dying, what literary justification zu sein there zum that kind of obfuscation? Didion is a world-class journalist. How could produziert curiosity fail her at this juncture? It took me one google search und one skim des a Wikipedia article and its sustaining literature to learn that die leading cause of acute pancreatitis is alcoholism. Why choose kommen sie leave ns death at die center von the story deshalb cloaked in mystery the even doubters can't phone call what actually happened?

Matesa says that Didion is "in denial" about her daughter's probable alcoholism, denial i m sorry "unfortunately has the ability to distort die thinking von even our most beloved intellectuals und artists and, ultimately, kommen sie hide ns full truth of their stories." That's possibly a little condemnatory. However this walk reinforce my anfangsverdacht take ~ above Blue Nights — that, together a book, it ist not des a item with Didion's excellent previously work, that an the move from reportage zu memoir, Didion's regulate of herstellung material has wavered. One kann sein hardly fault Didion together a mother weil das finding these dinge difficult kommen sie talk about. Yet Didion, bei choosing to write und publish a book, comes zu us notfall as a mother, yet as in author.

Is Joan Didion an Denial? Earlier: Joan Didion's Blue Nights is Elegiac, Unsatisfying

Photo des Joan Didion, john Gregory Dunne, and Quintana Roo Dunne in Malibu in 1976 via produziert publisher