cover image Blue Nights

Blue Nights

Joan Didion, read by Kimberly Farr. Random House Audio, unabridged, four CDs, 4.5 hrs., $25 ISBN 978-0-307-94081-0

Kimberly Farr turns in a solid performance in this audio edition of Didion’s haunting memoir of her daughter Quintana Roo’s illness and death. The book is a sequel of sorts to Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking—about the unexpected death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne—and this previous work haunts Blue Nights and helps to guide Farr’s narration. A younger woman than the author, Farr’s reading often lacks the mournful quality of the text: her narration is simply perkier than Didion’s prose. And while Farr does justice to the author’s story—using the elongation of precisely chosen words to indicate untapped reservoirs of emotion—there are times when the reading takes on a tone more appropriate to a less rigorous story of uplift through death. A Knopf hardcover. (Nov.)