There are many joys that come with bookselling, naturally other booksellers being top of the list. Besides their wit, kindness, humor, and general all-around goodness, they're also readers. And as a reader, I often turn to these other, more well-read readers for ideas on what I should read next.
Well, more precisely, it's about a woman keeping a diary, and then not keeping that diary. The book is Ongoingness: The End of a Diary, and the author is Sarah Manguso. Wes had figured that Manguso's obsession with recording her life, (her diary had stretched to 800,000 words-- for a frame of reference, War and Peace is just a little shy of 600,000,) was exactly the kind of obsession I was looking for. He was right.
Ongoingness is one of the best books I've read this year, perhaps my favorite. Instead of a memoir, it's more of a commentary on the keeping of her diary. What it meant to her, what she wanted it to be, how it failed. It seems no coincidence that Manguso's manifesto comes in this slim little volume; miles away from 800,000 words.
Of the diary, she says, "I wrote so I could say I was truly paying attention. Experience in itself wasn’t enough. The diary was my defense against waking up at the end of my life and realizing I’d missed it."
|Illustration by Montse Bernal/Reference: |
Andy Ryan; From the New Yorker
After Ongoingness, I inhaled more of her work. The Guardians, an elegy on the loss of her friend, his madness, and her fear of her own. And The Two Kinds of Decay a study of the rare disease Manguso battled in her twenties and the depression and havoc it lead her to. All of her books are beautiful; all of her thoughts, wise. She is the writer I wish I was, the thinker I aspire to be.