300 Arguments

300 Arguments

Book - 2017
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"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.

Publisher: Minneapolis, Minnesota :, Graywolf Press,, [2017]
ISBN: 9781555977641
1555977642
Branch Call Number: 814.6 Manguso 02/2017
Characteristics: 90 pages ;,16 cm
Alternative Title: Three hundred arguments

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JCLChrisK Mar 16, 2017

One of the aphorisms from the middle of 300 Arguments reads: "Think of this as a short book composed entirely of what I hoped would be a long book's quotable passages." And they are that, quotable. Reflections, insights, memories that each capture some truth about life. They are aphoris... Read More »


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JCLChrisK Mar 16, 2017

One of the aphorisms from the middle of 300 Arguments reads: "Think of this as a short book composed entirely of what I hoped would be a long book's quotable passages." And they are that, quotable. Reflections, insights, memories that each capture some truth about life. They are aphorisms, each a self-contained, poetic, miniature essay.

Yet, while they are each self-contained and complete, they are arranged in a sequence that tells a story. They are dots that can be connected to get a sense of a person behind them. While some are purely general, others convey common experiences with specific memories, and still others simply capture personal moments and feelings.

Most are confessional on at least some level, particularly when connected with those surrounding them. Many echo, complement, and supplement previous thoughts from different perspectives. Themes emerge: desire, loss, ambition, writing, intimacy, vulnerability, suffering, marriage, parenthood, and mortality among them.

A person emerges: a passionate artist who has succeeded on at least some level as a writer, who has experienced many relationships before finding contentment in becoming a wife and mother, who has struggled with chronic illness, and who is reflecting on all of it from the perspective of a premature, voluntary end of life.

It is a book that asks if unfulfilled yearning is enough, in and of itself. And it is a book that hints at the hints of fulfillment a particular person has found.

And it accomplishes all of that in a spare, minimal, efficient, and original manner. It is quite a writing feat.

"On the page, these might look like the stones of a ruin, strewn by time and weather, but I was here."

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