Read My Private Property by Mary Ruefle Online


Author of Madness, Rack, and Honey ("One of the wisest books I've read in years," according to the New York Times) 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 in a finely craftedAuthor of Madness, Rack, and Honey ("One of the wisest books I've read in years," according to the New York Times) 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 in a finely crafted edition.PersonaliaWhen I was young, a fortune-teller told me that an old woman who wanted to die had accidentally become lodged in my body. Slowly, over time, and taking great care in following esoteric instructions, including lavender baths and the ritual burial of keys in the backyard, I rid myself of her presence. Now I am an old woman who wants to die and lodged inside me is a young woman dying to live; I work on her.Mary Ruefle is the author of 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. She has published ten other books of poetry, a book of prose (The Most of It), and a comic book, Go Home and Go to Bed!; she is also an erasure artist whose treatments of nineteenth-century texts have been exhibited in museums and galleries as well as published in the book A Little White Shadow. 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 and teaches in the MFA program at Vermont College....

Title : My Private Property
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781940696386
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 128 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

My Private Property Reviews

  • Charles Finch
    2019-04-29 06:03

    Beautiful and jaw-dropping, like all of MF's work. Knocked a star off because it's slim and has a few weaker sections; would start elsewhere with her, but this is wonderful.

  • Kevin
    2019-05-18 05:46

    I've read bits and pieces of Ruefle before but this is my first whole book experience and I was won over quick. These are tightly-crafted, wise, and funny poem-essays on various subjects, ranging from Christmas trees to menopause (sadness, salted milkshakes, and shrunken heads are also brought to light). My fave piece though was "The Woman Who Couldn't Describe a Thing If She Could" which boils down her observational style to its stunning, darkly funny essence. I am now a Mary Ruefle fan.

  • Vincent Scarpa
    2019-05-15 07:00

    Another great collection from Mary Ruefle, one of my favorite poets. It's interesting to see her working in blocks of prose—I think it's a great stylistic move for this collection in particular. And while I couldn't always jive with the "color of sadness" pieces woven throughout, the remaining pieces hold such gems that I didn't mind. The book gets five stars alone for the title poem/essay, which I heard Mary read at Tin House a few years ago and have never forgotten since. What a piece of writing that is. Also great in this collection are: "Pause," Ruefle's meditation on menopause, "To A Magazine," "The Woman Who Couldn't Describe a Thing If She Could," and "Personalia."The line I can't get unstuck from my brain is "one can't always be wandering in meaning." A lesson there. Perhaps the lesson.

  • D.A.
    2019-05-13 05:06

    The mind of Mary Ruefle is mesmerizing.

  • Chelsea
    2019-05-12 09:45

    It is a blessing that I discovered Mary Ruefle three years ago, in the poetry section of my local library. She doesn't write the way others write, and she's strange and fascinating, and one of the only writers I'd like to read over and over again.

  • Brittany
    2019-05-12 06:53

    This is a fast-paced collection of some of Ruefle's most recently published work, along with little essay fragments on sadness and in scene. I realized I had read many of the longer pieces before ("Pause", "My Private Property") which rang as a weird kind of bell when I got to them again, but they are enjoyable nonetheless. These bites of thought, small as they are, are thought-provoking and deeply felt. If you need to see someone consistently stick the landing on cumulative, digressive, rambling sentences, Ruefle's got your back.

  • Iva
    2019-05-04 03:04

    Mary Ruefle keeps surprising the reader with strange and often wonderful images. They are often ordinary things or a few pages on shrunken heads. The Library of Congress assures us that these are poetry, perhaps because she has published many volumes of poetry; these clearly are short essays. She has said (in an interview) that she doesn't really care if people call them poems or prose. Her topics are varied: clouds, colors, lots about animals. What an active mind she has!

  • Gwendolyn Jerris
    2019-05-05 02:51

    bittersweet, witty, wise as usual. but ever so much sadder than any of her other books. not an emotional or intense or weeping sadness, either. but gray and at the edges, empty. like resignation. like endings that have no closure, when things just drift off to nothing. i might not recommend it right this minute if you are dissatisfied or regretful- or if you are at any lonely crossroad or turning or just turned forty.* i ought to caveat that yes, this is my very dry and self deprecating humor.*

  • Jessica
    2019-05-16 07:57

    Lovely, lovely. "Of course in the meantime you have destroyed your life and it has to be completely remade and there is a great deal of grief and regret and nostalgia and all of that, but even so you are free, free to sit on the bank and throw stones..."

  • Jane Somers
    2019-04-27 02:47

    The whole book is worth the purchase price for the essay "Pause." But maybe not if you aren't a fifty-something woman.

  • Lily
    2019-04-28 09:45

    First of all, the title essay is about shrunken heads. That should be enough to be at least intrigued by this. If that doesn't do it for you, this is my favorite thing I've read in awhile. Lyrical essays or prose poems, these vignettes are gorgeous. What do the various colors of sadness mean? Where can you see the world's largest crib? Did this lie a character told in a fictional story just become another story and other fictional layer, with a whole new set of characters? What is like to be a Christmas tree? And oh my god, menopause.

  • Buzz
    2019-05-12 03:08

    Bliss and haunting seem to be collaborators in My Private Property. This slim volume of 41 prose/poems, published by Wave Books in 2015, gives us Ruefle in her aphoristic mode. A concluding line like "On this day we shut out Nothing!" has the unexpected force of a final capitalization--Nothing being more capacious absence than itself absent that N--but the line preceding it, in Ruefle's "Recollections of my Christmas Tree," also includes capitals, thusly: "When it comes to Christmas, when Christmas comes, I sit firmly on the lap of Charles Dickens, and repeat after him: Welcome, Everything! At this well-remembered time, when Everything is capable, with the greatest of ease, of being changed into Anything." Such magnanimous surplus of capitals, W, C, D, W, E, and A all precede the ultimate "Nothing!" with more than one C and E among them, like so many bows tied around piled presents at the base of Ruefle's tree. The emphatic voice in many of Ruefle's stories is enthusiastic or hysterical at turns, and even reflective passages here and there seem to be uttered out loud rather than reading as unspoken awarenesses shared with the reader. The collection's last story, "A Strange Thing," proposes another reason for Odysseus having himself bound to the mast when reaching earshot of the Sirens; that their song was the very story he was living, and that those premonitory lyrics would reveal Odysseus to himself as a self other than the self he then considered himself to be. Ruefle offers a particularly enchanted relationship between thinking and being; reading her I often want to search for a rope and a mast. Sail on!

  • Bookforum Magazine
    2019-05-22 08:49

    "A few of the paradoxes that animate the texts in Mary Ruefle's My Private Property are embedded in the title itself. The proclamation that property is private is typically intended to ward off intruders, whether it appears on the cover of an adolescent's diary or is posted on a fence around an inviting lake. The book is for sale and readily perused, and the tone–confessional yet dispassionately precise, elegantly ruminative–allows us to read the adjective private as an enticement to enter. And even a cursory acquaintance with its topics urges us to understand property as a quality of something rather than an actual thing or locale. 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."-Albert Mobilio on Mary Ruefle's My Private Property in the Dec/Jan 2017 issue of Bookforum To read the rest of this review, go to Bookforum:

  • wilde (jessica)
    2019-05-25 04:06

    Technically, this Mary Ruefle collection is not entirely prose poetry. There are short essays, tiny stories, lots of little reflective texts. But they operate like poetry and feel designed to be experienced and considered and breathed while you're reading them. This is my excuse for why I can't write a 5-star review that's anything other than this: I read most of this while slowly eating leftover pub-food sriracha chicken tenders and carrot sticks while I sat at my desk still wearing a winter hat topped with a pom-pom, and thanks to the poems, it felt like a classy experience. There you go. That's a review. Also, A+ for the multicolored sadness sections and "Self-Criticism".

  • Taube
    2019-05-06 07:40

    "One thing is for certain--I wouldn't want to be a Christmas tree. It would be nice to be the center of attention, to be so decorated and lit that people stared at you in wonder, and made a fuss over you, and were mesmerized. That would be nice. But then you'd start dropping your needles and people would become bored with you and say your weren't looking so good, and then they'd take off all your jewelry, and haul you off to the curb where you would be picked up and crushed and eventually burned. That's the terrible part. Maybe that's why so many people today have fake trees."

  • Debs
    2019-05-25 08:53

    These are gorgeous, funny, arresting, poetical essays about topics both familiar and heretofore unexamined (by me). The essay on menopause scared the hell out of me; I really hope it's not as bad as all that. I love the note Ruefle wrote in the acknowledgements re: the color essays. This might be one that I buy because I feel that these essays might mean different things to me if/when I read them at another time/place in my life. Recommended as a welcome breath from everything that's happening right now.

  • A
    2019-05-05 08:51

    Replace sadness with happiness. It means the same.

  • Ruth
    2019-05-21 02:44

    funny.brilliant.too little.just enough

  • Amanda
    2019-05-02 09:48

    One of those books that changes your perspective on life and so many of the things in it. Highly recommended for those who want their existential sadness to be acknowledged for the grave thing it is.

  • Patti K
    2019-05-14 03:05

    A short book of prose poems that are curious and provocative.Some sound like koans and others like experimental short fiction.But all the short pieces are fun and worthy of attention.

  • Haley
    2019-05-10 06:00

    This small collection of very brief prose poems was an instant favorite for me. Oh my god, I've never experienced so many emotions so potently in such short spans before! The titular piece, "My Private Property," is about shrunken heads (!) and is in turn funny, gruesome, thoughtful, creepy and profoundly sad. One of the last pieces, "The Gift," made me laugh out loud in the beginning, then it turned meditative, strange and disconcerting (with the last sentence again soliciting a surprise guffaw). Her piece on menopause (titled "Pause") is violent and funny and moving. The quick and tightly-executed shifts in tone made this collection so unique - Ruefle's voice is at once ironic, reflective, profound, and joyous. What a ride!! The collection features 11 "colors of sadness" pieces, which the author includes the following note on in the acknowledgements: "In each of the color pieces, if you substitute the word happiness for the word sadness, nothing changes." I love this, and it made those pieces (which were otherwise the least interesting of the collection) so much more fun and engaging. Try it with the Purple piece:"Purple sadness is the sadness of classical music and eggplant, the stroke of midnight, human organs, ports cut off for part of every year, words with too many meanings, incense, insomia, and the crescent moon. It is the sadness of play money, and icebergs seen from a canoe. It is possible to dance to purple sadness, though slowly, as slowly as it takes to dig a pit to hold a sleeping giant. Purple sadness is pervasive, and goes deeper into the interior than the world's greatest nickel deposits, or any other sadness on earth. It is the sadness of depositories, and heels echoing down a long corridor, it is the sound of your mother closing the door at night, leaving you alone."Okay, here's also Brown, easily my favorite of the color pieces: Brown sadness is the simple sadness. It is the sadness of huge, upright stones. That is all. It is simple. Huge, upright stones surround the other sadnesses, and protect them. A circle of huge, upright stones - who would have thought it?I love this - I think it's funny, while also somehow comforting (a circle of protection) and creepy (being surrounded by brown reminds me of a grave, which she mentions often, with these stone sentinels as captors rather than guardians). I love that she's imagining this as the answer to the mystery of Stonehenge (and those other ancient monoliths). And again, the color pieces were generally my least favorite of the collection, with the longer pieces being utter knockouts. Now, on to acquire everything else Ruefle has ever written!

  • Suzan Bond
    2019-04-30 11:00

    I came to this book with big expectations. Bigger than one book can fulfill perhaps. It was recommended and beloved by so many that it leapfrogged its way to the top of my list. Though there were a few essays that I didn't connect with, by in large this slim volume met my expectations. At first I wasn't drawn to the color essays and then I couldn't escape them. I devoured them and went back through the book to read them all again, side by side. My favorite was pink. Other favorite essays include Personalia and Towards a Carefree world. I found the essay bearing the title of the book intriguing -- I disliked reading it and yet at the end, I felt understood somehow. This is not a traditional series of essays. It is for people who like me, who rather than linearly, think in circles, swirls and stars.

  • Brian
    2019-05-19 08:59

    Another amazing collection by one of my favorite writers. Ruefle's prose is as mesmerizing as her verse, and periodically more so. But it's her peerless ability to be so funny, so sad and so profound all at once that really separates her from the rest. Loved it. Although, if it isn't clear, I was a huge fan before.

  • Lacy
    2019-04-27 07:01

    This book changed my brain. Changed the way I understand writing and what is possible in terms of writing. I wouldn't want to classify this work--is it poetry? Prose? Essay? Fiction? It's all of these. It is a work beautifully impossible to categorize, except to say that it is now one of my favorite books.

  • Michael
    2019-05-14 06:46

    I’m very glad I read this. These are very brief idiosyncratic pieces by the author that are lovely. On subjects such as sadness, shrunken heads and dinner parties. I found it all not only delightful, but beautifully written. They are, in effect, small prose poems. Her imagery is powerful and sharp.

  • Sarah
    2019-05-20 06:55

    This was new. This was great. This will make you want to write. I think the title essay was my favorite, but the "color" essays were also very good. Mary Ruefle reminds me of Mary Oliver a little bit. Which is a good thing for both. I like the poetic, stream of consciousness writing. I will definitely read all Mary Ruefle has written.

  • Fitzie
    2019-05-04 06:51

    Mary Ruefle is a gift. This book of poems or flash fiction or micro essays or musings or whatever you prefer to call them (though it doesn’t matter) is Mary Ruefle being Mary Ruefle, which is to say it’s delightful & weird & honest & wise. The only reason it gets four stars and not five is because, through not fault of its own, it isn’t MADNESS, RACK, AND HONEY.

  • Alexa M
    2019-05-04 08:06

    Mary writes about the more heady stuff that goes on. I thoroughly enjoyed her excerpts about different colors sadnesses - my favorite was orange. I also loved the one where she points out the somewhat trivial thoughts that arise in the mind while dining.

  • Michelle
    2019-05-11 10:03

    The always unique Mary Ruefle never disappoints.

  • Kate
    2019-05-25 08:04

    Absolutely gorgeous. My only complaint is that it was much too short