In this episode of Life Stories, the podcast where I talk to memoir writers about their lives and the art of writing memoir, I reunite with Sarah Manguso, who I first interviewed back in 2008 shortly after the publication of her first memoir, The Two Kinds of Decay. When we met then, she mentioned that the recent death of a close friend was becoming the subject of a potential novel—instead, she’s written a short book (“an elegy,” as it’s billed on the cover) called The Guardians as an elegy to her friend Harris.
We discuss what led Sarah back to non-fiction as she probed her grief, and touch upon the idea of the supernatural as something between metaphor and reality, and I learn about a condition called akathisia that might be described as like restless leg syndrome all over your body—a condition that turns out to be a frequent side effect of certain anti-psychotic medications and which may have contributed to Harris’s condition in the hours before his suicide. I should mention that this conversation was conducted “in the field,” as it were; though the noise removal software made a pretty big difference, you’ll still hear the occasional snatches of music in the background. (The Tom Waits is pretty unmistakable.)
Listen to Life Stories #23: Sarah Manguso (MP3 file); or download the file by right-clicking (Mac users, option-click).