Conversation: Joan Didion

BY Tom LeGro  January 6, 2012 at 2:41 PM EST

“When we talk about mortality we are talking about our children,” Joan Didion writes in her new memoir, “Blue Nights.” Mortality is a subject Didion has grappled with in recent years, both in life and on the page. In the span of roughly two years, her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, and their only child, Quintana Roo, both died.

Their deaths became the subjects for her two latest books. “The Year of Magical Thinking,” completed in just 88 days, was written during the year following her husband’s death. It won the National Book Award in 2005 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

“Blue Nights” is examination of love and loss, as Didion reflects on parenting, her writing and Quintana Roo, who died at age 39.

Didion, 76, started her career at Vogue in the early-1960s and went on to write five novels and eight works of nonfiction, including the classic collections of essays, “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” and “The White Album.” While she gained fame for her critical and literary reporting style, in recent years, her focus has turned inward.

She recently visited the NewsHour to talk about “Blue Nights”: