While there is a story arc at play here (Sarah the girl becomes Sarah the wife and Sarah the mother), Ongoingness is a meditation on one writer's propensity for excess that gives way to a profound restraint.
Manguso has built a career out of cool-edged precision and it is readily apparent here she is well on her way to fully realizing her talent and has taught her pen to sing.— From Wesley
“Ongoingness is at once a calm analysis and a feverishly whispered confession. Built around the 'dark matter' of Manguso's 800,000-word diary, each capsule-sized entry is a meditation on memory, mortality, and what we leave behind -- both tangible and not. Highly recommended for fans of Joan Didion's The White Album and Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams.”
— Sarah Hollenbeck, Women & Children First, Chicago, IL
" Manguso] has written the memoir we didn't realize we needed." --The New Yorker
In Ongoingness, Sarah Manguso continues to define the contours of the contemporary essay. In it, she confronts a meticulous diary that she has kept for twenty-five years. "I wanted to end each day with a record of everything that had ever happened," she explains. But this simple statement belies a terror that she might forget something, that she might miss something important. Maintaining that diary, now eight hundred thousand words, had become, until recently, a kind of spiritual practice.
Then Manguso became pregnant and had a child, and these two Copernican events generated an amnesia that put her into a different relationship with the need to document herself amid ongoing time.
Ongoingness is a spare, meditative work that stands in stark contrast to the volubility of the diary--it is a haunting account of mortality and impermanence, of how we struggle to find clarity in the chaos of time that rushes around and over and through us.
"Bold, elegant, and honest . . . Ongoingness reads variously as an addict's testimony, a confession, a celebration, an elegy." --The Paris Review
"Manguso captures the central challenge of memory, of attentiveness to life . . . A spectacularly and unsummarizably rewarding read." --Maria Popova, Brain Pickings