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My Private Property
     

My Private Property

by Mary Ruefle
 

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"Ruefle can seem like a supernally well-read person who has grown bored with what smartness looks like, and has grown attracted to the other side. . . . She is not writing with a prescription, or at least not one for this earth. Nor is she celebrating the commonplace. She is concentrating on one thing at a time."—New York Times

"The property that

Overview

"Ruefle can seem like a supernally well-read person who has grown bored with what smartness looks like, and has grown attracted to the other side. . . . She is not writing with a prescription, or at least not one for this earth. Nor is she celebrating the commonplace. She is concentrating on one thing at a time."—New York Times

"The property that Ruefle deems private is the impalpable nature of the inner life we all share; it is at once ours and everyone's. . . . Ruefle has shown a talent for elevating her acute observations and narrative inclination well above mere anecdote to create quietly disquieting moments—a literature of barbed ambiguity and unresolved disruption." —Bookforum

Author of Madness, Rack, and Honey and Trances of the Blast, Mary Ruefle continues to be one of the most dazzling poets in America. My Private Property, comprised of short prose pieces, is a brilliant and charming display of her humor, deep imagination, mindfulness, and play.

Mary Ruefle is the author of many books, including Trances of the Blast; Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures, a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism; and Selected Poems, winner of the William Carlos Williams Award. Ruefle is the recipient of numerous honors, including 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.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Ben Ratliff
Mary Ruefle's My Private Property is a book that, if not read carefully and to its very last words, almost invites the reader to underestimate it…Ruefle's humor is abundant but not cheap. She is strikingly uninterested in fitting any aspect of her writing into venerable literary shapes or voices. This feels like the exercising of a right…Ruefle can seem like a supernally well-read person who has grown bored with what smartness looks like, and has grown attracted to the other side. Some of her narrators here come across as inconsistent, unsure and even inarticulate, which is not the same as dumb. She is not writing with a prescription, or at least not one for this earth. Nor is she celebrating the commonplace. She is concentrating on one thing at a time and doing something that, depending on how the light strikes it, can look like weirding out or being very serious.
Publishers Weekly
09/19/2016
In this collection of short essays and prose poems, Ruefle (Trances of the Blast) rambles through the quotidian and the morbid, displaying quirkiness as well as the sublime. The writing recalls fables , in that contained narratives and simple premises turn to reveal something of the human predicament. But far from offering moral instruction, Ruefle tunes into an unsettling and enlivening strangeness. In the title piece, Ruefle makes an appeal for the practice of the shrunken head as a loving burial rite, while she slyly weaves in complex questions about appropriation, ownership, and loss. A series of brief, lyrical prose poems catalogue different casts of sadness, each associated with a different color: “Black sadness is the ashling, its remains are scattered over several provinces, it is the sadness of raked and hyphenated names”; purple sadness is “words with too many meanings, incense, insomnia, and the crescent moon.” Ruefle details interiority in a way that is highly mannered and charming while also deeply vulnerable. At one point, she instructs a group of eager cops “that in the beginning you understand the world but not yourself, and when you finally understand yourself you no longer understand the world.” Playing through distinct notes of knowing and unknowing, Ruefle’s writing strikes a chord that resonates in psychic and social realms. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Mary Ruefle’s My Private Property is a book that, if not read carefully and to its very last words, almost invites the reader to underestimate it. . . . In her recent work, Ruefle can seem like a supernally well-read person who has grown bored with what smartness looks like, and has grown attracted to the other side. Some of her narrators here come across as inconsistent, unsure and even inarticulate, which is not the same as dumb. She is not writing with a prescription, or at least not one for this earth. Nor is she celebrating the commonplace. She is concentrating on one thing at a time and doing something that, depending on how the light strikes it, can look like weirding out or being very serious.
New York Times

The writing recalls fables, in that contained narratives and simple premises turn to reveal something of the human predicament. But far from offering moral instruction, Ruefle tunes into an unsettling and enlivening strangeness. . . . Playing through distinct notes of knowing and unknowing, Ruefle’s writing strikes a chord that resonates in psychic and social realms.
Publishers Weekly

The property that Ruefle deems private is the impalpable nature of the inner life we all share; it is at once ours and everyone’s…Ruefle has shown a talent for elevating her acute observations and narrative inclination well above mere anecdote to create quietly disquieting moments—a literature of barbed ambiguity and unresolved disruption.
Bookforum

Mary Ruefle is, in this humble bookseller’s opinion, the best prose-writing poet in America. (And one of our best poets, too.) My Private Property, her latest collection of stories, essays, and asides, is as joyous and singular a book as you’ll read.
Literary Hub

In My Private Property, all of life can be mined for meaning—the pieces concern themselves with the small and the large without making value distinctions between the two. Ruefle deals as frequently with mundane matters—a Christmas tree, feeding a finch, crumbs on a kitchen counter—as with those capital-letter concepts: God, Love, Death, Time, Memory. Any of these “other things” can undergo some transubstantiation and become poetry.
Los Angeles Review of Books

Reading her collection My Private Property, I’m struck by the conversational quality of this new work, by its anthropological spirit, and by its stubborn emphasis on the facts as Ruefle has found them.
Paris Review

Mary Ruefle's careful, measured sentences sound as if they were written by a thousand-year-old person who is still genuinely curious about the world… [She] combine[s] imagistic techniques from surrealism with narrative techniques to create surprising, high-velocity, and deeply affecting work. This aesthetic has spawned many imitators and variations, but her style is unmistakable.
The Stranger

I might say us dreamers have gotten ahold of the essay form. I might speak about how Mary Ruefle’s prose explores the varied experience of singular feeling, feelings within feeling, braiding feelings, feeling slipping into other feelings, feelings inflecting feeling, feeling chasing feeling. […] I might talk about how Mary Ruefle’s prose makes you laugh aloud, and, in the same beat, breaks your heart.
Essay Daily

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781940696386
Publisher:
Wave Books
Publication date:
10/04/2016
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
164,204
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author


Mary Ruefle is the author of Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013), Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures, a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism (Wave Books, 2012), and Selected Poems (Wave Books, 2010), winner of the William Carlos Williams Award. She has published ten other books of poetry, a book of prose (The Most of It, Wave Books, 2008), and a comic book, Go Home and Go to Bed!, (Pilot Books/Orange Table Comics, 2007); she is also an erasure artist, whose treatments of nineteenth century texts have been exhibited in museums and galleries, and include the publication of A Little White Shadow (Wave Books, 2006). Ruefle is the recipient of numerous honors, including 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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