Prize-winning poet and memoirist Sarah Manguso discusses her latest book, The Guardians, about the unexpected death of her best friend.
Zola: Denial is one of the book’s central themes. Do you think it’s always a bad thing? Can denial ever be useful?
Sarah Manguso: Of course.
Zola: New York City is essentially a character in the book. Has your relationship with the city changed since Harris died? If so, how?
SM: I wander less, without Harris. But of course I’m also five years older and busier.
Zola: There are many references to the supernatural in the book—dybbuks, Hawaiian ghosts and ghost dogs, an apparition in a hotel room, seeking out a psychic, and eerie coincidences. Did you have a strong connection to the supernatural before Harris’s death?
SM: No, I’d always been an empiricist. My wanting to talk to a psychic was a symptom of a character-deranging grief.
Zola: Did you read any books to help cope with your grief? Did any of them help?
SM: I found solace in many books, but Peter Handke’s short book about his mother’s suicide, A Sorrow Beyond Dreams, was particularly good to me, especially its last sentence: “Someday I will write about all this in greater detail.”
This article originally appeared on Zola Books.