Manguso. Magnificent.


She’s Sarah Manguso. A 41-year old writer and poet born in Massachusetts and author of the highly acclaimed memoir The Two Kinds of Decay.

Karen mentioned that she “loved” Manguso’s work so that was enough for me.

Her new book Ongoing: The End of A Diary was released yesterday.

This slim 144-page book is a gem. I’m trying to find the right adjective(s).




Here’s a snippet:

To write a diary is to make a series of choices about what to omit, what to forget. A memorable sandwich, an unmemorable flight of stairs. A memorable bit of conversation surrounded by chatter that no one records.

And another:

When I’m back with my own memories I drink a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. It helps soften their pressure, but the effect fades. Then I think I should practice grace for what I’ve been given to remember, but whatever I do, I can’t seem to forget what I want to forget. And then I think I don’t need to write anything down ever again. Nothing’s gone, not really. Everything that’s ever happened has left its little wound.

And finally:

I started keeping the diary in earnest when I started finding myself in moments that were too full. At an art opening in the late eighties, I held a plastic cup of wine and stood in front of a painting next to a friend I loved. It was all too much. I stayed partly contained in the moment until that night, when I wrote down everything that had happened and everything I remembered thinking while it had happened and everything I thought while recording what I remembered had happened. It wasn’t the first time I’d had to do that, but as I wrote about the art opening I realized my self-documentation would have to become a daily (more than daily?) practice. Today was very full, but the problem isn’t today. It’s tomorrow. I’d be able to recover from today if it weren’t for tomorrow. There should be extra days, buffer days, between the real days. If I allowed myself to drift through nondocumented time for more than a day, I feared, I’d be swept up, no longer able to remember the purpose of continuing. Twenty-five years later the practice is an essential component of my daily hygiene. I’d sooner go unbathed.

Book Reviews:

Bottom line: Highly Recommended.

Notes: Image –





  1. 25 years writing in a diary everyday is quite a commitment and discipline! She is has an interesting outlook on life. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for introducing us, David!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yup – it’s going in the queue.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. powerful practice.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Twenty-five years later the practice is an essential component of my daily hygiene. I’d sooner go unbathed.”
    Love those lines… I have volumes of journals- but I wish I had recorded the day to day things of life a little better. They talk a lot about my reaction to things I’ve read or they record my reactions to things that hurt and things that go unhealed, which, after awhile is like — okay already — enough sniveling. I find the entries about what everyone was doing, or eating, or what the latest mishap was are most interesting to me. Look forward to reading more about Manguso’s diary in your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love that line too Catherine. You have journals – so then, let’s get after it. As John Steinbeck said:

      Every book seems the struggle of a whole life. And then, when it is don — pouf. Never happened. Best thing is to get the words down every day. And it is time to start now.

      ~ John Steinbeck, Working Days. The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Intrigued? I am. Thanks for the introduction, David.

    Liked by 1 person

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