Travels with George, in Search of Ben Hur and Other Meanderings

Travels with George, in Search of Ben Hur and Other Meanderings

by Paul Ruffin
     
 

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This fourth collection of essays by Paul Ruffin highlights his idiosyncratic wit and practiced storytelling skills in memorable autobiographic pieces ranging from the comic to the confessional.

The first section, "Things Literary, More or Less," includes the title essay, in which Ruffin takes the reader on a rollicking tour with iconic Southern writer George

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Overview

This fourth collection of essays by Paul Ruffin highlights his idiosyncratic wit and practiced storytelling skills in memorable autobiographic pieces ranging from the comic to the confessional.

The first section, "Things Literary, More or Less," includes the title essay, in which Ruffin takes the reader on a rollicking tour with iconic Southern writer George Garrett, which ends with the two men locating the ghostly remains of an obscure Texas hamlet called Ben Hur and talking with an eccentric representative of the town's handful of inhabitants. In other essays Ruffin workshops a cowboy poem with a couple of deputy sheriffs, reveals aspects of Edgar Allan Poe's life never before published, reviews some unusual books, and shares the story of a boy who speaks only in hymns. Ruffin concludes the section with the tale of an invigorating flight to San Juan in an old DC-6.

In the next section, "On Likker and Guns," Ruffin summarizes his drinking career, transcribes the conversation between two rats that destroy his university office, and tells the tale of a bowhunter who asked him for his deer bladder. He also introduces the reader to a sharpshooter who, while trying to demonstrate his prowess with an old rifle, kills an old man's tractor. Finally Ruffin takes the reader on a trip to a Texas gun show to meet the menacing Boram, the clueless Billy Wayne, and a vigilant wife dedicated to preserving the family budget.

The book ends with an excerpt from Ruffin's unpublished memoir, "Growing Up in Mississippi Poor and White but Not Quite Trash." Every tale is vibrantly alive with the sincere voice, crisp details, bold images, and distinctive dialogue that readers have come to relish in Ruffin's writings.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews - Kirkus Reviews

Ruffin (English/Sam Houston State Univ.; New and Selected Poems, 2010, etc.) offers a collection of personal essays that read like script ideas rejected by the Farrelly brothers.

Though the author boasts a fairly impressive Southern Lit CV—founding director of Texas Review Press, founding editor of the Texas Review and 2009 Texas State Poet Laureate—most of these essays are just offensive and miss the mark. They find great humor in excessive drinking—Ruffin devotes an entire piece to his history with alcohol and lubricates others—and many of the essays celebrate a sort of arrested adolescence, especially with women. The author ogles teenaged waitresses and watches a mosquito probing a thigh of "a beautiful young woman" sitting next to him at a reading—guess what the probing reminds him of? Ruffin dismisses women who don't turn him on, including one waitress to whose apparently unsavory looks he devotes an entire paragraph. The author also displays an infantile pleasure in the body's waste products; One essay is entirely about our multiple uses of the wordshit; another records his mother's (!) eccentric practices with her used Kotex. Throughout, the author oddly reveals a disdain for the Southern and Southwestern people whom he putatively celebrates. One mean-spirited essay ridicules the doggerel written by some law-enforcement officers at a convention—a bit like a martial-arts expert's flattening some eager movie fan in line to seeThe Karate Kid.Ultimately, this collection reveals the author's inability to know what's important and what isn't. An interminable essay about a flight in a cargo plane features pages of ain't-goin'-nowhere-in-particular dialogue and crude comments about women's body parts.

Essays for the drunk and disorderly. Ruffin should stick to poetry and fiction—see The Man Who Would Be God (1993) or Jesus in the Mist (2007).

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781570039867
Publisher:
University of South Carolina Press
Publication date:
04/15/2011
Pages:
184
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

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