Sarah Manguso’s 300 Arguments

Sometime last year I discovered the writer Sarah Manguso. Some call her a poet-philosopher, others one of the sharper literary voices out there. For me, being a fan of quotations and quotable zingers, especially from writers who have a gift for turning a phrase and that special talent to surprise you, I enjoyed it. Here are a few examples from 300 Arguments, which is admittedly all I’ve read of hers… so far.

It’s an odd (not in a bad way) little book of Twitter-length thoughts. Her own site defines this book as “genre-defying work of aphoristic nonfiction” which pretty well covers it. Here are some that appealed to me:

  • Think of this as a short book composed entirely of what I hoped would be a long book’s quotable passages.
  • When someone insults you, it will infuriate him if you pretend to misunderstand the insult as a compliment.
  • I made so many mistakes on purpose just to get them out of the way.
  • There are truly two kinds of people: you and everyone else.
  • It’s impossible to fail if one doesn’t know how the end should look. And it’s impossible to succeed. But it’s possible to enjoy.
  • Vocation and ambition are different, but ambition doesn’t know the difference.