Monday, July 28, 2008

Review: The Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso

Today in January Magazine’s biography section, contributing editor Diane Leach reviews The Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso. Says Leach:
Sarah Manguso is a poet, and if the beautiful, terse sentences in The Two Kinds of Decay are any indication, she is a fine one. In this short, sharp memoir, Manguso describes the head cold she caught in February 1995. She was 21 years old, in college, second soprano in a choir scheduled to perform Gregorio Allegri’s “Miserere” on March 5, 1995. She managed to keep her cold in check until after the concert, where the choirmaster praised her work. She went home for spring break and began a nightmare of illness that would last for next nine years.

Sarah Manguso has chronic idiopathic demyelinating poliradiculoneuropathy. In layman’s terms, this means her immune system secretes antibodies, which travel to the peripheral neurons, eat away the protective sheath covering the nerve cells -- myelin -- then eat the cells, which sometimes recover, sometimes not. Symptoms include numbness and tingling in the extremities, paralysis, and the inability to breathe.

The full review is here.

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