Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso

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Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso

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Claire’s Pick: Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso. Sarah Manguso is an extremely talented poet and essayist and Ongoingness is a great place to start in her work. She had been a compulsive diarist for years, but when her son was born she felt a huge shift in her practice. Ongoingness documents that shift. Manguso’s prose is beautiful, sparse, and evocative, and she perfectly captures longing of wanting to remember everything and knowing you’ll always fail.  

About the book: In Ongoingness, Sarah Manguso continues to define the contours of the contemporary essay. In it, 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.

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