Sarah Manguso

  • The Shaking Woman or a History of My Nerves

    At her father’s funeral, Siri Hustvedt delivered a tearless eulogy. Two and a half years later, while giving a talk at St. Olaf College in honor of her father’s work in the school’s Norwegian Department, she began to shudder violently from the neck down. Of the episode, she writes, “I hadn’t felt emotional. I had felt entirely calm and reasonable. Something seemed to have gone terribly wrong with me, but what exactly? I decided to go in search of the shaking woman.”

    This is the basis for Hustvedt’s textbook-like memoir, The Shaking Woman or a History of My Nerves. A couple of pages after this

  • syllabi September 08, 2009

    Writing About Not Writing

    There are books about things, and then there are books about writing about things. Much self-reflexive writing tends to turn into self-panegyric about discovering—against all odds—the “freedom” to “create,” the discovery of one’s “voice.” The books below dwell on honest failure, shame, and the sharp self-awareness that comes after failing to write about anything other than failing to write. Each of these five authors shows us that writing through failure can produce great and necessary work.

    Sarah Manguso is the author of four books, most recently the memoir The Two Kinds of Decay (Farrar,