Sunday, January 10, 2010

Two Kinds of Decay

Two people on The Millions had this on their Books 2009 list. So I was ordering from Abebooks before you knew it. As I have said before, I really enjoy memoirs. In a way they are similar to short stories because the author is forced to edit the book. Memoirs should be concise and not rambling histories of an entire life.

The author of "Two Kinds of Decay" gets sick. She thinks she has a cold but it turns out to be so much worse. A rare disease. This story reminded me of "Patient" by Ben Watt. Sarah Manguso relays her experience in very clinical, and as many have said, spare, terms. You aren't sobbing and tearing your hair. You are reading about someone who is caught up in a strange experience and goes through the steps of treating an illness without knowing if her life will ever return to normal.

When I finished the book I said "huh" out loud. "Huh" as in what would I do in her situation? "Huh" as in how would my family deal with this? "Huh" as in I understand why she rents an apartment and does not put down roots - she has something in her life that could return. She knows upheaval. This is a well written memoir and and I feel the author is very talented. She could have resorted to the easy way out and the "whoa as me" story but she did not.

**When I looked at The Millions I realized that the year before, in 2008, I read "Don't Point that Thing at Me" because of Sarah Manguso's recommendation.

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