300 Arguments

300 Arguments by Sarah Manguso published by Graywolf, is a spectacular little book, spilling out arguments and conversations inside Sarah’s head. It’s irresistible. I read it on the train, tripping through,


“Preferable to accepting one’s insignificance is imagining others hate you.”


“Rock faces, bodies of water, the crotch of a tree.  It’s harder to personify the sky.”


She deftly dances from thought to thought like skipping from one lily pad to another.


In an interview with The Guardian, Manguso talks about how, after her illness, she met with a boy but she wanted to make sure the boy knew she was sick.  She was afraid he would think she was the kind of girl who went to public school.  She was a private school girl, not a public school girl.


I remember dating boys in Virginia.  I had to explain high school; I was at special pains to explain that although I did not go to public school, I came from nothing. I was nothing. It took way too long. The whole story of the cult and its snow and brutality spilled out on dates until I couldn’t bear to date.  I would have said anything to make sure the boys of summer didn’t think I had fancy pants. In Arizona, it was easier, I learned not to talk about high school.


We defend our own tribe.

“People congregate according to their relative levels of luck,” Sarah Manguso writes.


I come from the tribe of strivers, of dreamers and workers. My tribal members have dirty boots. We comb our hair with our fingers.  We like fries and vodka.  We have written whole stories in mud.  We have woken up to sunrise; we have jumped off docks into cold water. Sometimes I think our whole life is cold water.


The tribe I come from is blessed. We have sunrises and sunsets.  We have the moon. We have our writing, our painting. We have the morning. We have stories.  We have our friends.


300 Arguments is fingers tapping on the ideas of the world.


I also read The Poor Clare by Elizabeth Gaskell on my travels. It’s a Gothic slow windy story in the tradition of the Bronte sisters.  We’ve got lost children, curses and saints.  It’s an elegant little book reprinted by Melville House.  The story is all sadness, the nuns dying in the dark. I like reading slowly, gingerly, like I am finding my way forward in the dark. Who’s there?

Published in: on September 23, 2017 at 8:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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