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Ongoingness: The End of a Diary
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Ongoingness: The End of a Diary

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,852 Ratings  ·  286 Reviews
“[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
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Hardcover, 104 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by Graywolf Press
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Vincent Scarpa
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"Time punishes us by taking everything, but it also saves us—by taking everything."

Gulp.
Leigh Stein
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“Nothing’s gone, not really. Everything that’s ever happened has left its little wound.” You will devour this book.
Julie Ehlers
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ongoingness is difficult to talk about, because the book is essentially a document talking about another document, so any review of it is a document talking about a document talking about a document. The farther one gets from the original document, the more abstract the whole thing becomes. I’ll do my best.

Sarah Manguso kept a daily diary for many years; then she stopped keeping one. This book is about both of those things. No excerpts from the diary are included--Ongoingness is simply about the
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Lee
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
So short and spare it felt good to read in a day and write a review, adding to my "2017-read" list. But it's so unspecific in its language (definitely hurt my estimation of it that I read this after KOK's perfectly descriptive, world-evoking, utterly more animated and alive Autumn) -- and for a book about memory (always fertile ground for literary agrarianism) it underwhelms (let's just say that the patron saint of memory, Monsieur Proust, compares favorably to this). Pregnancy brain bits were i ...more
Sian Lile-Pastore
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Beautiful book about writing diaries, memory, loss, motherhood and time. Profound but also slight and short, reminded me a little of Rebecca Solnit - will be reading more.
Sophie
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Someday I might read about some of the moments I've forgotten, moments I've allowed myself to forget, that my brain was designed to forget, that I'll be glad to have forgotten and be glad to rediscover as writing. The experience is no longer experience. It is writing. I am still writing.
Όντας μανιώδης καταγραφέας της καθημερινότητάς μου, όσο ευχάριστη ή δυσάρεστη κι αν τυχαίνει να είναι, όντας εμμονική στην αποτύπωση στο ημερολόγιο των μικρών και μεγάλων συμβάντων και της πρόσληψής τους, το συ
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Dave
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm left a bit speechless. I couldn't stop reading, and I couldn't stop thinking "this is too much, you need to stop and think about some of these things".
Darcy
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I could have written this book. Not in the way that people claim that anyone can write a book, but in the sense that every word of this book felt as true and as real to me as if I had written them myself. Forty pages in and tears were rolling down my cheeks because I felt like I understood myself better than I ever had before, understood life like I never had before. "I knew I was grown up when I spent time with them and felt not just the weight of my old memories but the weight of theirs, from ...more
Maddy
The striving to remember always amazes me, because I spend so much time trying to forget.
Elizabeth A
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, non-fiction, essays
I'm a person who has kept a journal since I was a young girl, and I am convinced that to non-journal keepers, keeping a journal for long periods of time must feel like a Jedi Knight skill. It might well be, I don't know. I'm too close to the pages to be able to make an objective assessment. I know many people who struggle with keeping a journal, and personally I cannot imagine why they do. But then, I also cannot imagine why people who can read don't. All this means is a lack of imagination on m ...more
Abby
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shortly after the turn of the millennium, I read the diary from beginning to end. Finding nothing of consequence in 1996, I threw the year away.
I’d already shredded the volumes I wrote in high school—not to keep them from others but to keep them from myself. So it seems I didn’t want to remember everything.
I wanted to remember what I could bear to remember and convince myself it was all there was.

As a faithful diarist since the age of 7, I read this little book quickly and with great interest.
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gaudeo
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
There are many words of wisdom in this book. Here are two thoughts:

"Perhaps all anxiety might derive from a fixation on moments--an inability to accept life as ongoing. . . . Then I came to understand that the forgotten moments are the price of continued participation in life, a force indifferent to time."

I've given the book only three stars simply because I didn't feel a deep-enough connectedness to this writing: I don't keep a diary, and I am not a mother. Both of these experiences are of grea
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Briana
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My first manguso... brilliant. I cannot wait to read more of her work. Read in one sitting. I wish to quote the whole book but instead I will leave you with this,

“Maybe the trouble is that the shape of life is elastic, that it can feel and be full at variable levels of fullness. Or maybe we’re poor judges of our own lives’ fullness. Or maybe the concepts of emptiness and fullness are poor metaphors for happiness, if in fact happiness is what we’re talking about.”

“I used to harbor a continuous
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christa
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Here are the circumstances of reading Sarah Manguso’s Ongoingness: I am in a mega-reading rut. Nothing looks good. Everything takes too long. I’m tired of buying new books, but I’ve already read at least half of all of the olds. I finished a graphic novel and had to use Wikipedia like Cliff Notes to get a sense of what had happened. I sent a friend an email to ask what she was reading. Seemed like we would have similar taste, but different enough to not end up with a recommendation that I was al ...more
Patrick Bella Gone
Oct 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Manguso's prose leans heavily on aphorism, rarely allowing anecdotes to spin out, bulge, or implode. Its neatness and reliance on interpretation rather than the description of events poses the book in stark contrast to the diaristic form, the aim of which, at least for Manguso, is to capture and store detail. The book’s subject is keeping a diary, and in its decision to never quote from Manguso's supposed 8000 page catalog of her life, becomes an anti-diary, an argument championing experience ov ...more
Mandy
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
I found this book shockingly short, given its subject matter. The author keeps an obsessively meticulous 800,000 word journal for 25 years, then writes a book about it that's only 100 or so pages long?

The author was fixated on the need to document every detail of her life, and seemed terrified about the passing of time and the chance that she might forget something.

I assumed she had some sort of mental disorder. I read on to discover what had finally allowed her to loosen her grip on the all-co
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Amy
Many of us keep journals to record our thoughts and activities. We keep mood journals to record our moods. Some people scrapbook to have things to look back on at a later date. Remember all the concerts we went to. Remember the people we dated. Remember various decades, specific years, turmoil and triumphs. But is that the only reason we write things down. And does one keep the journal, keep recording or does one get rid of the journals? I found myself involved from the first page. It’s a gorgeo ...more
Michael Padden
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love this book. It's a fast read and a brilliant meditation on time, and how we perceive ourselves in the present and the past. I'm at a place in my life where I feel like I'm constantly striving for something and this keeps me feeling vaguely unsettled much of the time. Manguso does a great job of addressing these feelings and how they shift and change over time. I felt like I was getting some wonderful advice from a mentor or an older sibling, but it didn't feel like a self help book. She in ...more
Roxanne
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Is it possible to have a favorite book of 2016 on the 5th day of the year? A book you want to gift to everyone you know, and one which makes you realize that you love your friends more for knowing they would appreciate it?

This read like an essay version of Nayyirah Waheed's poetry. It is an unusual book in its content and its form, and one I treasured all the more for it.

Beauty, beauty, beauty.
Karen
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
This little volume did nothing for me except think that the author was OCD.
Alba
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Manguso's fixation with memories is something I can relate to. (Though, I am not as passionate about it as she was.) I think maybe it is something all diarists tend to do. We record and record our days and thoughts. It is this longing to never forget or to always go back to a former self.
Cassie Bone
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
There were so many profound moments in this book, but Manguso’s succinct, short-format delivery almost takes the shine off them. Her writing style is so condensed that it’s easy to overlook how insightful her observations really are. There’s just so much packed in here, but Manguso’s style is so stripped back that it feels a little bit disjointed. But perhaps that’s the point?
A slight book but one to be read very, very slowly.
Francesca
Apr 15, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Depressing and painfully pretentious.
Mark
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Interesting in concept as an intellectual exercise, but not especially compelling as executed. What might have been an intriguing examination of and pushing of the limits of the written word as an analog of memory instead mostly demonstrates those limits by removing all of the ineffability of the best works (literature and otherwise) that take memory as their primary subject. It doesn't help that essentially the entire book necessitates being seen through a scrim of self absorption which, yes, s ...more
Kate
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
As I've gotten older and have more memories to remember, the subject of memory has become more interesting to me. This slim book/essay is about the author's relationship with keeping a diary; from the obsessive diary writing days of her 20s and 30s, to her more relaxed diary writing practices of today after the birth of her son.

Early in the book Sarah writes...

More than that, I wrote so I could say I was truly paying attention. Experience in itself wasn't enough. The diary was my defense against
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Gus
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I knew I worried about the passing of time a lot. But especially with reading, like being on goodreads and constantly cataloging pages and pages of things you have read or want to read- all of the time that goes into that reading, and then forgetting 3/4 of the book, what is the point? What is the point of ever reading a book you don't absolutely love? But I still do? And it becomes a weight on my chest. Like, I think I have been reading for the sake of reading in the same way that Manguso wrote ...more
Sigrun Hodne
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I like the idea better than the result.
Amar Pai
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was bummed when she has her kid (midway through the book) and then stops writing about anything else

Though I try to log only the first time he does yet another extraordinary thing, the diary is now mostly about my son

I found this very depressing.

Like when people set their profile picture on Facebook to a picture of their kid. UGH I find that depressing as well

It's as if your friends have been bodysnatched and replaced with their spawn
Sarah
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book disappointed me. The writing comes from the head. There is no sense of wonder. I have spent a lot of time journaling and thinking of how I perceive time (two things that drew me to this book) and while I didn't and don't expect how I do either of those two things to be shared by another person, I wish to see someone else's passion manifest--even if that passion is being dismantled. I expect to be taken seriously as a reader.
Jenna
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
My disappointment with this book was only matched by how much I had anticipated reading it. I think the proclivity toward obsessive documentation is interesting, especially when you put it in terms of a complicated relationship with time passing. I can relate to this, and that's what drew me to the book. But I can't relate to these metaphysical dilemmas being satisfactorily resolved by glorifying motherhood--an old story that holds no interest for me. YAWN.
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Sarah Manguso (b. 1974) is an American writer and poet. In 2007, she was awarded the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize Fellowship in literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her memoir The Two Kinds of Decay (2008), was reviewed by the New York Times Sunday Book Review and named a 2008 "Best Nonfiction Book of the Year" by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Her poems and prose have appeared in The
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“Time punishes us by taking everything, but it also saves us — by taking everything.” 23 likes
“It was a failure of my imagination that made me keep leaving people. All I could see in the world were beginnings and endings: moments to survive, record, and, once recorded, safely forget. I knew I was getting somewhere when I began losing interest in the beginnings and the ends of things. Short tragic love stories that had once interested me no longer did. What interested me was the kind of love to which the person dedicates herself for so long, she no longer remembers quite how it began. ♦” 15 likes
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