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A Little White Shadow Paperback – May 1, 2006

3.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Alongside her justly known poems, Ruefle (Tristimania, 2003) also crafts what she calls "erasures," found texts from which she has crossed out almost all the words, leaving only a tiny poem's worth per page; the latter make up this book. In this pocket-sized reproduction of a whited-out 19th-century volume, Ruefle etches haiku-like minifables, sideways aphorisms, and hauntingly perplexing koans ("the dead/ borrow so little from/ the past/ as if they were alive") from what must have been an unusual text to begin with (Ruefle borrows the book's original title). As much a statement about the act of reading as the act of writing, this is a strange and lovely work by a singular poet. (May 1)
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About the Author

Mary Ruefle is the author of Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures, a finalist for the 2012 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, and teaches in the MFA program at Vermont College.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Wave Books; 1 edition (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933517034
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933517032
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.2 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Mary Ruefle, A Little White Shadow (Wave Books, 2006)

I have no idea what possessed Mary Ruefle to take the text of an obscure nineteenth-century book (the author of which I've been trying to uncover ever since reading this, with no success) and turn it into poetry by whiting out most of it, but whatever it was, I like it.

I originally took it as one long piece, but others have suggested it's actually a collection, and it does make more sense that way. What Ruefle does here is to white out most of the words on the page, leaving just enough to give an intelligible image here, an interesting twist of action there. It's all quite exciting from a creative standpoint, as there are obviously any number of texts out there which can be used to the same ends, but Ruefle's eye for what to leave in makes for some extremely interesting reading, as well. I'm quite fond of this. ****
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It's the sort of thing that makes you say, "Why didn't I think of that?"

But it's so much more than that, as well. Poet Mary Ruefle has created a miniature of mysterious beauty, simply by discovering, or unearthing, haiku-like poems embedded like gems in the text of an old book. Could anyone do this? Perhaps ... but it takes that poet's eye to select so precisely, to white out all but a few words, and transform what had been a fairly straightforward page of prose into these ghostly, dreamlike poems, at once delicate & piercing as a cold needle.

And it's a reminder that art, beauty, and mystery are to be found everywhere -- perhaps especially in the everyday, laid out before us, if we only take the time & effort to look. Highly recommended!
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Mary Ruefle is a great poet and this is an interesting project - BUT - be aware of what you are getting - a tiny pamphlet, 42 pages and 4.5 by 6 inches (its there in details but i never thought of looking to see what the size of the book was - so my fault) - my only point is - i would not have paid $13 for something that can be read in 3 or 4 minutes - that is paying almost $200 an hour for your reading pleasure - were in not Mary Ruefle i would have given it 1 star on a value basis - as it is its worth $4-$5
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I wasn't for me. I ordered it for my daughter because she needed it for one of her college courses. I cannot believe the price of that teeny, tiny, thin book. It's flat as a pancake with only a few sheets in this little booklet and it cost me almost $16! Ouch! If it weren't needed for my daughter's class, I would never have bought it. I'm not blaming Amazon. It's the author/publisher who over priced it. It's a rip off!
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I see no mention of the great artist, Tom Phillips, whose great work, "A Humument", surely must have been an influence for Mary Ruefle's wonderful "A Little White Shadow".

For such a small volume, and even without Mr. Phillips imaginative artwork, this publication packs in a great amount of emotion and wonder. I hope to send copies to a few dear ones :-)
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