What does it feel like to be you?

Having bookmarked it a few days ago, I started my morning by reading Alice Gregory’s book review for Sarah Manguso’s ‘Ongoingness’ in the New Yorker. Really interesting. I’ve already requested two of Manguso’s memoirs from my local library.

There’s so much to discuss in this short book review. For now, I’ll just mention the final paragraph:

One could argue that reading memoirs comes more naturally to us now than ever before. Our critical faculties and emotional voyeurism are primed as they’ve never been. Social media barrage us daily with fragmented first-person accounts of people’s lives. We have become finely tuned instruments of semiotic analysis, capable of decoding at a glance the false enthusiasm of friends, the connotations of geotags, the tangle of opinions that lie embedded in a single turn of phrase. Continuously providing updates on life for others can encourage a person to hone a sense of humor and check a sense of privilege. It can keep friendships alive that might otherwise fall victim to entropy. But what constantly self-reporting your own life does not seem to enable a person to do—at least, not yet—is to communicate to others a private sense of what it feels like to be you. With “Ongoingness,” Manguso has achieved this. In her almost psychedelic musings on time and what it means to preserve one’s own life, she has managed to transcribe an entirely interior world.

Alice Gregory on Sarah Manguso

I am eager to read Manguso’s book. I wonder, how readable is her account? How intelligible are her “psychedelic musings”? How does a private account of what it feels like to be you differ from a public one?

Addendum: April 16, 2015

While searching through my safari reading list, I found a The Rumpus interview with Sarah Manguso that I bookmarked several weeks ago. I’m adding it here, for reference:

The Rumpus Interview with Sarah Manguso