Books to remember (7)

There are some books that will always stay with us. In this blog series, illustrators share a book that has made a big impression on them. Here, printmaker Jesse Levison tells us which book she will never forget.

“I am a huge fan of Joan Didion’s work and The Year of Magical Thinking has stuck with me throughout the years. I’d even go as far as to say it gave me a totally different outlook on death. Didion writes as a voyeur observing her own life from the outside in as her daughter falls into a coma and her husband passes away suddenly. The whole way through I feel like I’m experiencing these monumental losses alongside her. She uses language and repetition to drive home the importance of the moment, while also exposing the mundanity of the situation. It’s a delicate stylistic balance that has had a lasting effect on me.”

“The book exemplifies how there is no right way to react to death and grieving, which I found to be such a comfort. Didion thinks about having to put out the fire in her fireplace while the ambulance is taking her husband away. Sometimes little distractions are the only way to cope with the overwhelming shock of loss. Didion reminds us that everything can change in an instant. Even though this book deals with death and loss, it’s actually very much about life as Didion walks us through memories of her daughter and husband.

I have many book-lovers among my friends; I belonged to a book club for nine years in New York, and I was sad to leave it when I moved to Los Angeles. I tried to get one started here but it didn’t seem to stick! Belonging to a book club really keeps you motivated to read on a regular basis when there are so many other distractions around.”

Jesse Levison has been a printmaker for years. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida, US, spent nine years of her life in New York and recently relocated to Los Angeles. With her company Gold Teeth Brooklyn, she makes cards, jewelry and objects with a playful design. In her work she wants to bring a sense of wonder and recognition to the everyday. You can see examples of her work on her website. 

Illustration homepage: Jennifer Orkin Lewis