On the cover of Joan Didion’s previous memoir, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” four letters in the author’s name and the title were colored differently than the rest. They spelled “JOHN,” the name of her late husband.

On the cover of her new book, “Blue Nights,” the colored letters spell simply “NO.” This is a book of resistance — a struggle against “the end of promise, the dwindling of the days, the inevitability of the fading, the dying of the brightness. Blue nights,” Didion explains, “are the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but they are also its warning.”

While powerless over death, particularly the death of her daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne, who lay in a coma for 20 months and died in 2005 at the age of 39 — Didion is determined not to lose what she has left: the images, the words. “Blue Nights” tells almost nothing about Quintana’s illness and the circumstances of her death — instead it examines what is left.

The things she doesn’t want to forget are murmured over and over in classic Didion one-sentence paragraphs: “The day she cut the peach-colored cake from Payard. … The day the plumeria tattoo showed through her veil.” (Images from Quintana’s wedding.) “Like when someone dies, don’t dwell on it.” (Quintana’s advice to her mother on bereavement, repeated if not obeyed.)

She sifts through the memories and mementos of her daughter’s early precocity — a call to 20th Century Fox to find out how to become a star; a box of “Sundries,” containing areas for “My Passport,” “My IRA,” and “Little Toys”; a list of “Mom’s Sayings”: “Brush your teeth, brush your hair, shush I’m working.” Now these are viewed with suspicion — was Quintana so mature because her parents were not mature enough?

“It was a time of my life during which I actually believed that somewhere between frying the chicken to serve on Sara Mankiewicz’s Minton dinner plates and buying the Porthault parasol to shade the beautiful baby girl in Saigon I had covered the main ‘motherhood’ points,” Didion writes, recalling the lost days of innocence and privilege.

Leavening the darkest moments of this book are wonderful asides — an explanation of how she writes rough drafts using a notation that represents the rhythm of the text rather than its content (of course she does); a passage where Didion is sent to physical therapy for her mysterious neuritis. She is surprised to find she likes PT, and is encouraged by the proficiency and progress of the other patients — until she learns that they are the New York Yankees.

“Blue Nights” is not “The Year of Magical Thinking,” a book that everyone in the world should read. But for the great many of us who cherish Joan Didion, who can never get enough of her voice and her brilliant, fragile, endearing, pitiless persona, it is a gift.