This Magic Moment: Rosina Reynolds Brings Joan Didion to Encinitas

intrepid_widget_yomt-copy“The details will be different, but it will happen to you.  That’s what I am here to tell you. “   

The words of Joan Didion have narrated the American experience for decades, from her iconic examination of 1960s Haight-Ashbury in Slouching Towards Bethlehem to her inside look at government in Political Fictions and to even unpacking the propensity of Californians to live with fire season, Didion has been the chronicler of our lives since she first started setting pen to paper as a young writer fresh out of UC Berkeley.

Rosina Reynolds as Joan Didion

Rosina Reynolds as Joan Didion

While her journalistic analysis is astonishingly accurate, it is perhaps her more personal essays that deliver the deepest literary impact. Over the years, these meditations have included pieces on self respect, keeping a notebook, moving to New York City.

But perhaps the most recognizable title is her 2004 memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, where she navigates the aftermath of her husband’s death and the illness of her only daughter. It is this story which Rosina Reynolds will bring to life in Intrepid’s Staged Reading Series Monday night at the Encinitas Library, under the direction of Annie Hinton.

“I read Magical Thinking in one day over Christmas break,” says Annie, recalling her first encounter with the memoir. “My father had just died and I wanted to see if it was an appropriate aid to give my mother. I couldn’t put it down.”

Annie wasn’t the only one captivated by Didion’s story. The memoir awarded Didion the National Book Award in 2005 and was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer.

Annie Hinton directs

Annie Hinton directs

A few years later, she adapted it into a one-woman show for Broadway, where it continued to touch people and catalyze conversations around death and grief and the magical thinking that occurs as one processes these hard-hitting emotions.

The one-woman piece evokes Didion’s voice in a way that her solitary writing cannot, and while the story is the same, the theatrical incarnation is powerful in a very different way.

“The play hits much closer to home,” says Annie. “The voice in the piece is part storyteller and part Oracle, and somewhere along the way we become interested in their lives as well as their deaths.”

While it might seem easy to get lost in the grief, Didion’s writing teaches us that it is only by processing it with the same precision with which she unpacks the details of a crime scene that we can move through that darkness and into something truly miraculous – and perhaps a little bit magical.

The Year of Magical Thinking, a staged reading. By Joan Didion. Featuring Rosina Reynolds. Directed by Annie Hinton. Encinitas Library 540 Cornish Drive. 6:30 pm wine and appetizer reception. 7 pm reading. $15. Funded in part by the City of Encinitas and Mizel Family Foundation Community Grant Program.

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Encinitas Library