Two Kinds of Decay

Sarah Manguso
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Feb 3, 2015

Sarah battles a crazy disease, the kind of mysterious disease with no definitive end. It’s a disease that requires a central line (a catheter placed into a large vein in the neck), the kind of disease that attacks nerves and turns the body into a battleground.

And while all these things are very critical in this memoir, the most important element is how the disease is presented to the reader. This book may be comprised of poems threaded with angst, humor and despair or it could be a teetering castle of prose blocks. Or perhaps it’s one long essay ravaged by the disease itself. The way this book gives you its words feels a little like what chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy has done to Sarah.

You will boo the disease, yes, but you will spend more time applauding Sarah’s strength, humor and poetic prowess as her body endures cold plasma, a suppository inserted by a cheerleader, countless injections, a rogue ovary relocated during a moment of passion and paralysis that is described as ‘trying to lift someone else’s thigh with your own mind.’ 

Written by Hannah Jane W.