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Book Title

300 Arguments

Author 1
Sarah Manguso
Poem Excerpt
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.

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A brilliant and exhilarating sequence of aphorisms from one of our greatest essayists

About the Author

Sarah  Manguso
Credit: Andy Ryan
Sarah Manguso is the author of seven books including 300 Arguments, Ongoingness, The Guardians, and The Two Kinds of Decay. Honors for her writing include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize.
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  • “This collection transcends any category to be something totally its own.”—NPR “All Things Considered”
  • “Beckons the reader to return, to read a sentence, and put it down again. . . . Her arguments . . . are crystalline and often walloping.”New Republic
  • “Pithy and wry, with a melancholy undercurrent that takes a beat to set in—like a vaccine whose pinch gives rise to a muscular ache.”The Nation
  • “A book whose great precision and honesty constitute an irresistible incitement to think.”San Francisco Chronicle
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