just less than a hundred pages Sarah Manguso talks about her intimate
relationship with her twenty-five-year-old daily habit of writing about
her life. At the beginning of Ongoingness: The End of a Diary, she admits:
I couldn't face the end of a day without a record of everything that had ever happened (p. 3)She kept a diary both so she wouldn't forget and so she could "stop thinking about what had happened and be done with it."
In more than eight hundred thousand words (she destroyed some of her journals over the years), she wrote to preserve memories, stop time, and maybe find some immortality. But with the birth of her son, Manguso gained a different perspective on those very things: memory, time, and the future.
The beautiful, succinct passages that make up Ongoingness ultimately come around to the realization that the true repository of memories and ultimate marker of time are not in meticulously kept diaries but are in the flash and sparks of new generations, in a "world of light unending."
I've read this slim volume twice now and will likely read it again. Sarah Manguso's thoughts have a sharp, crisp focus, yet her prose is poetic and flowing. I've marked many passages that need my fuller attention, that call to me to sift through the layers. Ongoingness will be with me for a while.
A few quotes:
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. (p. 11)Published by Graywolf Press, March 3, 2015
Marriage isn't a fixed experience. It's a continuous one. It changes form but is still always there, a rivulet under a frozen stream. Now, when I feel a break in the continuity of till death do us part, I think to myself, Get back in the river. (p. 25)
In my experience nursing is waiting. The mother becomes the background against which the baby lives, becomes time. (p. 53)
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