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300 Arguments | Sarah Manguso

Reverberating power in 52 words. In 21 words. In 13 words.

So interesting because it isn’t structured like passages pulled from a narrative. The passages are the narrative. Separated by lines, the entire book is what the author describes as “a short book composed entirely of what I hoped would be a long book’s quotable passages”. The result is powerful statements that require you to slow down because you might miss their power because each has deeper layers that beyond the brief statement.

I wanted to go further, highlight, and underline them, but I resisted, in an attempt to respect the Seattle Public Library. There were many arguments that I could not understand, some I knew were because of different personal experiences, but also there was much that was thematically lost on me. For those passages I cannot grasp fully, I do feel a sense of disappointment and embarrassment. I wanted to stop rereading them, as if life ends at the discovery of ignorance or literary challenge. With 300 arguments, I wanted to explore the feverish cloud of wisdom and experience in this book. It is everything to try to know, to be willing to know, to take what resonates, and leave the rest. I intend to keep coming back to it.

A few of my favorites…

“I can’t bear to think of my dead friend, but I don’t mind rereading a few things that have nothing to do with him and that always move me to tears. The grief reservoir empties to a manageable level. In this way I can mourn him without have to think about him.”

“After I stopped hoping to outgrow them, my fears were no longer a burden. Hope is what made them a burden.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being unhappy if you don’t consider unhappiness a pathology.”

Earlier Event: September 20
When We Were Kings Documentary