The writer Sarah Manguso is a cut above. In her latest, The Guardians: An Elegy, Manguso’s full range of talent is on display. Her sentences are hauntingly resonant, her diction precise, her writing clear. She has masterful command of the material. Her experiences—the processing of grief over the suicide of a close friend named Harris, her past issues with mental illness—are laid full bare for the reader. And it’s all totally uncut, unfiltered, offered, ready for rejection or praise—a brave work, revealing all that vulnerability. But her work’s rhetorical strength is stymied by a surprising lack of engaging material in the text.
The Guardians is, for Manguso, a much-needed act of catharsis, or at least a necessary stage in a profoundly sad process of understanding. For the reader? It’s admirably messy but ultimately distant. Continue reading