Following the acclaimed Dunce, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, comes Mary Ruefle’s latest prose publication The Book. True to its bold title, The Book affirms Mary Ruefle’s legacy as (dubbed by Publishers Weekly) “the patron saint of childhood and the everyday.” With the same curiosity found in Madness, Rack, and Honey and My Private Property, Ruefle’s prose here feels both omniscient and especially intimate. “It seems I believe in a bygone world though I no longer live there,” she writes. “Will I continue to read about all that is dusty?” In the spirit of friendship, Ruefle generously invites us to query ourselves as readers and thinkers in a world that will eventually endure without us.
The potent pieces resist easy interpretation, sparkling with the suggestiveness of Ruefle’s poetry. Readers will marvel at the results.
The presiding spirit of the poems is an amiable if world-weary explorer, curious about everything yet knowing that each answer begets another question. Ruefle's writing is whimsical, in the sense that it often follows a flight of fancy to its furthest point, with little regard for anything but the process of discovery. The trajectory of any given piece might be compared to a drawing of the looping flight path of a bee. Often they have the effects of riddles or monologues delivered by oddball narrators.
Emily Berry, London Review of Books
Ruefle has excelled in writing agile, syncopated free verse, but her prose poems are even more unusual. Her investigations in the genre have yielded a sound all her own. You hear in these new poems how poetic prose can absorb and parody the regular prose of daily life: articles, advertisements, letters to the editor, legal documents, business correspondence.
Jim Schley, Seven Days
There is something quite magical in the way her pieces exist within this collection, this “book,” offering the notion of genre as something wonderfully fluid. Within compact lines and wonderful flow, she offers intimate and lyric slivers of life and thinking, meditations on ordinariness that is never truly ordinary, or spectacular simply because of that ordinariness. The variations on her prose structures hold an enormity, packing nuance into every phrase.
Mary Ruefle is the author of many books, including, most recently, The Book (September 2023) along with Dunce (Wave Books, 2019), which was a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize, longlisted for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, as well as a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. She is also the author of My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016), Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013), Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures (Wave Books, 2012), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, and Selected Poems (Wave Books, 2010), winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. She has also published a comic book, Go Home and Go to Bed! (Pilot Books/Orange Table Comics, 2007), and is an erasure artist, whose treatments of nineteenth century texts have been exhibited in museums and galleries and published in A Little White Shadow (Wave Books, 2006). Ruefle is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Robert Creeley Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Whiting Award. She lives in Bennington, Vermont, where she serves as the state’s poet laureate.
Publication: September 2023
ISBN# 9781950268849 (5.75 x 8, 112pp, trade hardcover)