I recently read Sarah Manguso’s 300 Arguments, which she describes as “a short book composed entirely of what I hoped would be a long book’s quotable passages.” A few of my favorites:
The waterbirds near my house are in middle school. The coots’ voices crack; the seagulls bully the ducks; the egret just got braces and stands, humiliated, by himself. (6)
I wouldn’t argue that my life carries an intrinsic purpose other than ushering chromosomes forward in time. But absent of will, my mind derives from sensory experience emotions so powerful that they seem an almost translucent veil between me and some totalizing beauty. The northern and southern lights seem a tiny introduction to it, a reminder that it’s there, behind the sky. (79)
The blurb on the front is from Leslie Jamison in The Atlantic. She writes: “[Manguso’s] prose feels twice distilled; it’s whiskey rather than beer.” I love when a reviewer’s style echoes the work they’re reviewing. Definitely get yourself a copy of 300 Arguments. I’m gonna read Leslie Jamison’s work next.