By Mary Ruefle
Publication Date: June 1, 2008
ISBN# 9781933517292 (5x8.5 80pp, paperback)
ISBN# 9781933517308 (5x8.5 80pp, limited edition hardcover)
Delectable fables with questionable morals—sweet and sharp and over too soon. These thirty stories deliver the soft touch and the sucker punch with stunning aplomb. Ducks, physicists, detectives, and the New York Times all make appearances.
By turns droll, witty, heartfelt, and fanciful the pieces in The Most of It, whatever you choose to call them, offer something for every taste and temperament, which seems only fitting for a book that is dedicated “TO YOU.”
Kathleen Rooney, Boston Review
Ruefle...has created in The Most Of It a deceptively complicated collection of episodes easy to get into, and precisely captivating.
Ellen Wernecke, Onion AV Club
This collection showcases Ruefle’s considerable lyrical powers and memorable flights of fancy.
What makes this so funny is that the obviously insane theme is presented deadpan, as an essay, with a logically developed (and screwily persuasive) argument. The fatuousness of the idea is balanced against the determined intelligence of the logic. But the logical order is intrinsically a narrative as well, because Ruefle’s sense of language and character is so vivid that the real fascination of the story comes from imagining the person who would create this piece of prose and the events that led to its creation.
Brian Phillips, Poetry
“... Despite having published ten books of poetry, Ruefle has cultivated a style that is resolutely idiosyncratic and outsiderish without seeming bitter or alienated."
Ultimately what makes Ruefle herself is not her control of the long sentence but her tone. There is an innocence that is almost hard to believe, so rare is it in contemporary poetry. Ruefle’s characteristic speaker looks at the world with fresh eyes, maintains a childlike relationship to life, untainted by irony or cynicism or bitterness. It is easy to dismiss this view of the world as naive or sentimental or merely “charming” or “eccentric,” but to do so is to miss the poetic philosophy behind it. Ruefle is a perfect exemplar of Keats’s negative capability, one who stays within “uncertainties, mysteries and doubts” about the world without any “irritable reaching after fact & reason.”
Jason Koo, The Missouri Review
There are many pieces that are peculiar, but lovely, flash-fiction or story-poem hybrids...These very short pieces are like butter mints wrapped in jeweled cellophane. Each is excruciatingly lovely, but it dissolves quickly as the page turns. Readers, however are not saddened by this ephemeral nature for Ruefle’s style is so manifold, every turn summons something new.
Valerie Pell, Third Coast
I am surprised by Mary...that her 2008 publication, The Most of It, is neither lyric nor narrative in the conventional sense. While some of the poems (“The Bench,” for example, is reprinted) bear the trace of the lyric I/eye whose genius is the ability to articulate the movement of the mind from uncertainty to transcendence, the majority of these prose poems resist closure, celebrate multiplicity, speak at a skewed angle from the familiar, and address language’s failures to ever fully grasp all of it.
Emily Carr, Lemon Hound
Mary Ruefle is the author of many books, including Dunce (Wave Books, 2019), 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.
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