The Guardians by Sarah Manguso
An Elegy

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The efforts to find a why are less convincing than the efforts to reconcile with the empty space behind.
-LA Times

Synopsis

The Guardians opens with a story from the July 24, 2008, edition of the Riverdale Press that begins, "An unidentified white man was struck and instantly killed by a Metro-North train last night as it pulled into the station on West 254th Street." Sarah Manguso writes: "The train's engineer told the police that the man was alone and that he jumped. The police officers pulled the body from the track and found no identification. The train's 425 passengers were transferred to another train and delayed about twenty minutes."
The Guardians is an elegy for Manguso's friend Harris, two years after he escaped from a psychiatric hospital and jumped under that train. The narrative contemplates with unrelenting clarity their crowded postcollege apartment, Manguso's fellowship year in Rome, Harris's death and the year that followed—the year of mourning and the year of Manguso's marriage. As Harris is revealed both to the reader and to the narrator, the book becomes a monument to their intimacy and inability to express their love to each other properly, and to the reverberating effects of Harris's presence in and absence from Manguso's life. There is grief in the book but also humor, as Manguso marvels at the unexpected details that constitute a friendship. The Guardians explores the insufficiency of explanation and the necessity of the imagination in making sense of anything.

 

About Sarah Manguso

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Sarah Manguso is the author of a memoir, The Two Kinds of Decay; two books of poetry, Siste Viator and The Captain Lands in Paradise; and a short-story collection, Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape.
 
Published February 28, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 124 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Self Help. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Guardians
All: 4 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 2

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Leo Robson on Jul 06 2012

What undoes this book isn't the strained relationship between language and reality but the strained relationship between language and Sarah Manguso.

Read Full Review of The Guardians: An Elegy | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Gemma Kappala-Ramsamy on Jun 23 2012

Brief but intense, full of startling observations that make you think again about the nature of loss.

Read Full Review of The Guardians: An Elegy | See more reviews from Guardian

LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Carolyn Kellogg on Mar 18 2012

Manguso's attention to friendship is on younger, less well-defined ground. What does it mean in our culture to lose a friend? Can the loss be as deeply felt? If they loved each other, were they not lovers?

Read Full Review of The Guardians: An Elegy | See more reviews from LA Times

LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Carolyn Kellogg on Mar 18 2012

The efforts to find a why are less convincing than the efforts to reconcile with the empty space behind.

Read Full Review of The Guardians: An Elegy | See more reviews from LA Times

Reader Rating for The Guardians
85%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 5 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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