This slim volume contains poetic multitudes about time, mortality, motherhood, and writing. (Though very different, it's an interesting intellectual companion to Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts.) Sarah Manguso kept a diary for 25 years, which had swollen to an almost monstrous 800,000 words, as an act against a kind of terror of forgetting. After she had a son, she "began to inhabit time differently," and the result is this jewel of a memoir. Ongoingness is a beautiful, meditative examination of life, beauty, aesthetics, and our (generally false) sense of continuity of identity. Recommended By Jill O., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"[Manguso] has written the memoir we didn’t realize we needed." — The New Yorker
In Ongoingness, Sarah Manguso continues to define the contours of the contemporary essay as she 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 eight hundred thousand 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.
"Manguso captures the central challenge of memory, of attentiveness to life.... A spectacularly and unsummarizably rewarding read." Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
"Bold, elegant, and honest.... Ongoingness reads variously as an addict’s testimony, a confession, a celebration, an elegy." The Paris Review
About the Author
Sarah Manguso is the author of two memoirs, The Guardians and The Two Kinds of Decay; a collection of short stories; and two poetry collections. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she teaches at St. Mary’s College.