300 Arguments: Essays (Paperback)
300 Arguments isn't the chorus but it is part of the hook from your favorite song, the one you sing during your walks home at night, the one you sing to keep the dark away with your head down and a fire in your belly. Sarah Manguso's aphorisms are that same melody, one which at first seems fragmented and unclear, but continues to build upon itself, steadily alluding to a braver, brighter symphonic whole—sort of like someone finally gave Emil Cioran a cookie. Worth reading if you've ever felt bold for merely enduring or if you wake up each morning with some sort of dark optimism on your lips. You know how it is.Eric
February 2017 Indie Next List
“Sarah Manguso is a master of the minimalist form. She can do more with a sentence than many authors can do with an entire book. In this collection of brief ruminations, she covers everything from sex and mortality to ambition, mental illness, writing, desire, and motherhood. These 'arguments' are aphoristic gems in which a seemingly random thought has hardened into a bold, cutting, crystalline truth. There is no exposition. Manguso lets these minute statements stand on their own, and the reader is left with nowhere to hide from direct engagement with a most remarkable literary mind.”
— Keaton Patterson, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX
“I'm blown away by 300 Arguments, a wild, literary sleight-of-hand on par with the best of David Byrne or Jenny Holzer. Sarah Manguso packs so much feeling and genius into such compact little pieces. I keep watching, but I can't figure out how she does it.”
— Jamie Schwesnedl, Moon Palace Books, Minneapolis, MN
"Jam-packed with insights you'll want to both text to your friends and tattoo on your skin....A sweeping view of a human mind trying to make order of the world around us."--Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere
There will come a time when people decide you've had enough of your grief, and they'll try to take it away from you.
Bad art is from no one to no one.
Am I happy? Damned if I know, but give me a few minutes and I'll tell you whether you are.
Thank heaven I don't have my friends' problems. But sometimes I notice an expression on one of their faces that I recognize as secret gratitude.
I read sad stories to inoculate myself against grief. I watch action movies to identify with the quick-witted heroes. Both the same fantasy: I'll escape the worst of it.
--from 300 Arguments
A "Proustian minimalist on the order of Lydia Davis" (Kirkus Reviews), Sarah Manguso is one of the finest literary artists at work today. To read her work is to witness acrobatic acts of compression in the service of extraordinary psychological and spiritual insight.
300 Arguments, a foray into the frontier of contemporary nonfiction writing, is at first glance a group of unrelated aphorisms. But, as in the work of David Markson, the pieces reveal themselves as a masterful arrangement that steadily gathers power. Manguso's arguments about desire, ambition, relationships, and failure are pithy, unsentimental, and defiant, and they add up to an unexpected and renegade wisdom literature.
About the Author
Sarah Manguso is the author of three memoirs, Ongoingness, The Guardians, and The Two Kinds of Decay; a story collection; and two poetry collections. She lives in Los Angeles.