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Books  >>  Biography

Sarah Manguso

Ongoingness

Sarah Manguso Ongoingness The End Of A Diary
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Biographical note:

Sarah Manguso is the author of two memoirs, The Guardians and The Two Kinds of Decay; two poetry collections; and a short-story collection. Born and raised near Boston, she was educated at Harvard and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She lives in Los Angeles.

Main description:

A dazzling philosophical investigation of the challenge of living in the present, by a brilliant practitioner of the new essay

In her third book, which continues to define the contours of the contemporary essay, Sarah Manguso confronts a meticulous diary that she has kept for twenty-five years. “I wanted to end each day with a record of everything that had ever happened,” she explains. But this simple statement belies a terror that she might forget something, that she might miss something important. Maintaining that diary, now 800,000 words, had become, until recently, a kind of spiritual practice.
     Then Manguso became pregnant and had a child, and these two Copernican events generated an amnesia that put her into a different relationship with the need to document herself amid ongoing time.
     Ongoingness is a spare, meditative work that stands in stark contrast to the volubility of the diary—it is a haunting account of mortality and impermanence, of how we struggle to find clarity in the chaos of time that rushes around and over and through us.

Review quote:

Praise for Ongoingness:
 
"After I had my son I looked everywhere for a book that might serve as some kind of mirror. I bought so many silly books. Now I see what the problem was: I wanted a book about time—about mortality. I can't think of a writer who is at once so experimentally daring and so rigorously uncompromising as Sarah Manguso. Ongoingness is an incredibly elegant, wise book, and I loved it." —Miranda July
 
"The memoir form is shaken up and reinvented in this brilliant meditation on time and record-keeping. Ongoingness is a short book but there's nothing small about it. Sarah Manguso covers vast territory with immense subtlety and enviable wit." —Jenny Offill
 
"It seemed scarcely possible that, after The Two Kinds of Decay and The Guardians, Sarah Manguso's work could get more urgent, but somehow it has. Ongoingness confronts the deepest processes and myths of life and death: birth, marriage, illness, mourning, motherhood, art. Underwriting this book, as is true of all of Manguso's books, is writing itself. Or, rather, the writing is about itself in the best, most vital sense. Our author/narrator/speaker/heroine is never not asking the most fundamental question, namely, Why live? The seriousness of the inquiry gives this book extraordinary purpose, momentum, and value. I am in awe." —David Shields
 
Praise for Sarah Manguso:
 
“Rather than taking the route a journalist or detective might pursue to piece together what happened, Manguso plumbs the depths of her memories . . . Brief but intense, full of startling observations that make you think again about the nature of loss.” —Gemma Kappala-Ramsamy, The Guardian
 
“In brief, almost stanza-like paragraphs, Manguso describes the chronic fear of death—the sort of details sufferers wish to share and readers read such accounts to learn.” —Diane Johnson, The New York Review of Books
 
“Although working within a modest scope, she has created a form to encompass the way life passes: plodding, breathless, and unrelenting.” —The New Yorker


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