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Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto

Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto

4.1 19
by Anneli Rufus

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The Buddha. Rene Descartes. Emily Dickinson. Greta Garbo. Bobby Fischer. J. D. Salinger: Loners, all—along with as many as 25 percent of the world's population. Loners keep to themselves, and like it that way. Yet in the press, in films, in folklore, and nearly everywhere one looks, loners are tagged as losers and psychopaths, perverts and pity cases,


The Buddha. Rene Descartes. Emily Dickinson. Greta Garbo. Bobby Fischer. J. D. Salinger: Loners, all—along with as many as 25 percent of the world's population. Loners keep to themselves, and like it that way. Yet in the press, in films, in folklore, and nearly everywhere one looks, loners are tagged as losers and psychopaths, perverts and pity cases, ogres and mad bombers, elitists and wicked witches. Too often, loners buy into those messages and strive to change, making themselves miserable in the process by hiding their true nature—and hiding from it. Loners as a group deserve to be reassessed—to claim their rightful place, rather than be perceived as damaged goods that need to be "fixed." In Party of One Anneli Rufus — a prize-winning, critically acclaimed writer with talent to burn — has crafted a morally urgent, historically compelling tour de force—a long-overdue argument in defense of the loner, then and now. Marshalling a polymath's easy erudition to make her case, assembling evidence from every conceivable arena of culture as well as interviews with experts and loners worldwide and her own acutely calibrated analysis, Rufus rebuts the prevailing notion that aloneness is indistinguishable from loneliness, the fallacy that all of those who are alone don't want to be, and wouldn't be, if only they knew how.

Editorial Reviews

Rhonda Stewart
In Party of One, Rufus, an editor at the East Bay Express in California, mixes research, interviews, and opinion to make her case. But the author is most compelling when she homes in on a few concrete examples rather than piling them on without developing her points. The insightful chapters on the myths that loners are friendless and incapable of love are cases in point.—The Boston Globe
Publishers Weekly
In this compendium of everyone who was anyone who ever spent a moment alone, readers bump fleetingly into Kurt Cobain, French Resistance fighters, the Lone Ranger ("Tonto notwithstanding"), Michelangelo, Alexander Pope, John Lennon, cowboys, Saint Anthony and other solo acts. Rufus, the books editor of East Bay Express, views Degas's plain-faced dancers as "pretty ballerinas" whom the artist leaves every time he exits his studio, and Warhol's biography as "tellingly titled Loner at the Ball." She chases her motif, not so much a manifesto as a cri de coeur, through an assortment of perspectives: religion, advertising, clothes, crime, art, eccentricity, environment, literature, religion and popular culture. She also identifies "pseudoloners" like Theodore Kaczynski and Jesus Christ (who "was too good at guiding crowds to have been one of us"). There's an us/them tone to this book that makes one wonder who the audience might be. The "us" people "do not need writers to tell us how lovely apartness is"; the "them" people will surely weary of being identified as "Nonloners. The world at large. The mob." Taken in column-sized doses, Rufus may be entertaining and informative, but her book feels as if too much random information has been cut-and-pasted together. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A witty essay about things best done on your own by admitted loner Rufus. Editor (presumably in splendid solitude) of the literary quarterly East Bay Express, our Lone Writer finds the conviviality of the wide world one huge pain and would like to not be considered nuts just because solitude and a room of her own speak to her soul. (Her loyal husband agrees.) Rufus discusses with brio the rewards of the sequestered life and the bothers imposed by gregarious outsiders in various sociological contexts. In film, lone heroes like Shane are overtaken by lone killers like Norman Bates. By the way, if popular culture is so popular, what has it to do with an anchorite beyond offering information as what the crowd is up to? Advertising, the ubiquitous power behind pop culture, reveals what everyone else will want, so who wants it? Not the true recluse. Don’t misjudge: loners have real friends, though perhaps not a lot and maybe they don’t visit frequently. And they have sex, too, though perhaps not a lot or frequently. Organized religion is a problem (it’s organized, after all), but the Internet is a stroke of luck. Solo adventure is a cinch, and so is eccentricity. Loners flourish in the creative arts and science. Emily Dickinson and Albert Einstein, Thomas Merton and Greta Garbo are among the many insular folks examined, along with Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski and the D.C. snipers (losers misidentified as loners by the media). Sam Spade, Batman (but not Robin), and the author are simply reclusive, preferring independence to society. "Is socializing all that great?" asks Rufus. "Riots are socializing." Proceeding on the perhaps questionable assumption that loners are universally reviled, sheprovides a founding manifesto for an organization of self-contained people. (There would, naturally, be no meetings.) Or maybe it’s a book discussion topic for eremitic groups: join the stay-at-home crowd and read it alone. A clever and spirited defense, perhaps more energetic than the actual amount of prejudice requires.

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Da Capo Press
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8.16(w) x 5.44(h) x 0.71(d)

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4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book at the library on accident one day and it truly changed my life. Navigating the least loner-friendly place on earth-high school-can be hell, and just knowing that there's enough people like me out there to warrant a book about the subject makes me ecstatic. The chatty sector of the rest of the world should take a cue from Rufus' great book and realize we're not freaks in fact, loners are usually alot more emotionally resilient, independent, and creative than the mob.
DoctorRon More than 1 year ago
This book validated my life-long aversion to things social, and does a wonderful job of pointing out that those who choose to be solitary (unlike those who have solitude thrust upon them) are indeed valuable, cotributing members of society. Much of the book deals with the stereotypes and judgments made against those who prefer solitude: not teams players, misfits, rebellious, liley to be socially deviant, if not a serial killer! If you are ther sort of person who looks for reasons to avoid the family reunion, the company picnic, and so on, this book will be of great value. I wish every teacher, prof, boss, colleague, and neighbor of mine had been "enlightened" by this book. Knowing that some people get "recharged" in a crowd, and also knowing the same experience drains some of us, leaving us needful of recovery time, is something that non-loners need to be aware of, I believe.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Finally, I too can get validation. Tired of feeling like i'm 'weird'... and explaining to friends that i feel great being alone and minding my own business... better than listening to superficial conversations or senseless banter at many social gatherings i have been to. And no, i'm not shy,i have friends, boyfriend(s),social activities. It doesn't mean we are 'hermits'; and can not find love. Although it is hard to find someone that is also like me..a loner! We loners, can now not get togheter in this great book!! Thumbs ups for the author!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I felt as if every instinct and feeling I have/had was poured onto the pages. It pleases me that, as stated in another review, someone does finally get it! Recommended for those loners out there who are fed up with the psycho-serial killer stereotypes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like the author, I learned early on what to do to fit it and be a part of the crowd. She is so very right that people are born with this temperament to enjoy more time alone that with others. My mother, who had 6 children, said that I was the only one of them who could always entertain myself and didn't need to be with someone else to be happy. Like Rufus, I quickly grow bored with group 'watercooler' type talk and find the hardest part of work is being in an office having to listen to chatter all day long--not the work, but the workplace. I do bristle at the word 'loner' because I would never call myself one. I like people, just in smaller doses than most others. The book also helped me to understand my lack of tolerance toward 'nonloners.' I had always wondered what was wrong with someone who needs to call all the time and be with someone everyday. And now, with this constant talking on cell phones that exists everywhere you go, I wonder what is wrong that grown adults can't stop talking for two minutes! God forbid, they have some time to think quietly. For all of us who don't feel lonely alone but in crowds, maybe we could not get together sometime. This is a great book and should be required reading for all teachers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm only halfway done reading this book, but I can tell already it's going to be one of the books I secretly hide away and return to regularly for affirmation and understanding. Ms. Rufus so nails the singular experience of being a loner that she's better than Carl Jung. She lists numerous applications of the specificity of situations that loners face and the odd looks and pitched eyebrows of the nonloners who can't understand why they would prefer to be alone with their imaginations than sitting in an inescapable boat with half-drunk people spouting their opinions on the most mundane subjects imaginable. Or, worst of all, attending the block party to pretend to be interested in the neighbor who talks about 'your double axles,' along with the rest, who all are members of a neighborhood bowling team and whose unexamined lives are not worth listening to. This made me feel great about who I am and who my wife is, and how two loners like us could have such a fabulous relationship and not really need anyone else. This book should be the 'Be Here Now' of every introvert, to be read for comfort during times when nonloners throw parties in the next room that you didn't wish to attend and frequently had to invoke cases of the vapors to get out of. This writer is brilliant. I'm going to look into buying several more of her books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book after skimming through it because I have some loner tendencies and wanted to read more about what the author had to say. After a few chapters, though, I felt that I was reading the same words over and over. OK, you're a loner and proud of it¿I get it. But while agreeing with some of the premises, such as that it's fine to dine alone or venture out by yourself, I feel that it's not a sin to socialize, either. Do whatever you're in the mood for! I fully understand the dismay at the all-too-common 'loner as sociopath' depiction in society, but the book came across to me as very angry and too much 'us vs. them'. About halfway through, I lost interest and never finished reading it.
TAWhite More than 1 year ago
Years ago I was walking through B&N and saw this title on their table. After reading the first page I knew I had to buy this book right away! This books sings to my loner soul beautifully!! Such an amazing book. Thanks.
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Young loners might appreciate the "validation", by age 60 I've learned to like myself as I am. But I was still pleasantly stunned to see my feelings in the words of the introduction, which I want my best friends to read now. The rest of the book seems to meander a bit, rather like separate short essays, so you can choose any single chapter (like technology or sanity) that appeals to you. Recommended for friends & family who think there's something "wrong" with you. (I got this book from my mother, the only other real loner I know.)
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Guest More than 1 year ago
As a lifelong loner, I thought I'd long since figured it all out -- but Rufus' book crystallized and clarified Lonerhood for me. With dry humor, wryness, and a great gift for empirical observation, she walks us through what it is like to be apart from the crowd. Beautifully written and soundly researched, Party of One is a masterpiece of a manifesto. Hats off -- well, one lone hat -- to Rufus for exploring territory previously unmapped. The more socially-inclined observer of the species will enjoy it just as much.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loners are so misunderstood, and this book depicts just that. I kept screaming yes after each paragraph! It sounds like a story of my life! Non-loners could learn alot from it, namely to just be quiet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While I did enjoy the author's humor regarding lonerism. She claims to be a loner, yet she is married.