The Two Kinds of Decay | Granta

  • Published: 02/02/2012
  • ISBN: 9781847083098
  • 129x20mm
  • 192 pages

The Two Kinds of Decay

Sarah Manguso

At twenty-one, just as she was starting to comprehend the puzzles of adulthood, Sarah Manguso was faced with another: a wildly unpredictable autoimmune disease that appeared suddenly and tore through her twenties, paralysing her for weeks at a time, programming her first to expect nothing from life and then, furiously, to expect everything. In this captivating story, Manguso recalls her struggle: arduous blood cleansings, collapsed veins, multiple chest catheters, depression, the deaths of friends and strangers, addiction, and, worst of all for a writer, the trite metaphors that accompany prolonged illness. A book of tremendous grace and humour, The Two Kinds of Decay transcends the very notion of what an account of illness can and should be.

Beautifully crafted... Remarkable, it stridently reminds the reader not to wish one's mundane, routine life away - in case that wish is granted

Sunday Times

Honest, insightful... unusually piercing

Independent on Sunday

Sharp, funny, moving ... a masterpiece of tone and attention

Tom Jones, Contributing Editor, London Review of Books

The Author

Sarah Manguso is the author of two books of poetry and the short-story collection Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape, included with story collections by Dave Eggers and Deb Olin Unferth in McSweeney’s One Hundred and Forty-Five Stories in a Small Box. Honours for her writing include a Pushcart Prize, the Joseph Brodsky Rome Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, the Truman Capote Fellowship at the University of Iowa and the Isabella Gardner Fellowship at teh MacDowell Colony.

More about the author →

From the Same Author

The Guardians

In 2008, one of Sarah Manguso’s oldest friends discharged himself from a New York City psychiatric hospital and threw himself in front of a train; the last ten hours of his life are unaccounted for. In this new memoir, Manguso continues her attention to illness, suffering, and time’s relentless forward momentum, which prevents total recovery from grief. As she did brilliantly in her first memoir, The Two Kinds of Decay, Manguso explores the insufficiency of explanation and the necessity of the imagination in making sense of anything at all.

Sarah Manguso on Granta.com

Essays & Memoir | The Online Edition

My Body

Sarah Manguso

‘When I was twenty-one I became a citizen of the hospital.’