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The Guardians: An Elegy

The Guardians: An Elegy for a Friend - Sarah Manguso "I want to set aside every expectation of how I should feel or act given that my friend had a bad death, and try to explain what has actually happened to me—if, in fact, anything has actually happened to me." (p. 86)This brief book is Manguso's attempt to make sense of the death of her close friend Harris. When she had been out of the country and hadn't seen him for a year, he escaped from a psychiatric hospital and threw himself in front of a train. But the Harris she knew had not been troubled or crazy or suicidal, certainly not at first, and Manguso parses every step in the evolution of her feelings toward the Harris she remembers and the Harris, perhaps somehow a different one, who committed suicide.At the start, in its portrait of young people feeding and feeding on the artistic energy of New York, it reads like Patti Smith's Just Kids; in its later search for an authentic expression of her grief, it reads like Peter Handke's A Sorrow Beyond Dreams. It's not quite as resonant as either of those, but then that would be a very tall order.