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The Most of It Paperback – June 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

These 31 "stories" from poet Ruefle (Indeed I Was Pleased with the World) are more like brief squibs, close observations and meditations. "Snow," for example, expresses the wondrous and sexual sense of benediction the narrator feels when it snows. "The Diary" appears as a girl's autobiographical reflection on growing up on her father's troubled "diary farm." A cardinal "looking like Santa Claus" seems to mimic the behavior of humans in "My Search Among the Birds." The pieces' brevity and whimsy sometimes veer into single sentiment gags, as when detailing (in "A Certain Swirl") a sentence's sense of abandonment in being left on the blackboard after the class's departure. This collection showcases Ruefle's considerable lyrical powers and memorable flights of fancy. (June)
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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Wave Books (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933517298
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933517292
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #703,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
I had never heard of Mary Ruefle before I picked up my copy of The Most of It at Women and Children First during my recent visit to Chicago. I was struck by the lovely complexity of simple activities. I think Ruefle's prose lets you in on the way a poet lives and thrives. She essentially rambles, stream of consciousness style. It was amusing and heart warming.
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Format: Paperback
Mary Ruefle's The Most of It is full of the portent of ordinary things, the imaginary life of inanimate objects, ethical obligations to inconsequential objects, and a joyful extravagance. These prose poems meditate on ordinary scenarios, such as an encounter with a neighbor at a post office, watching birds at a birdfeeder, buying a bench with one's partner, and waking up to the sound of a street sweeper. Yet these ordinary moments become portals to deeper reflections, doors opening to doors, or mirrors held up to each other to create reflections to eternity. They show that everything in the world has a story, and everything is connected to everything else in a strange web of causality. Nothing is simply what it seems. They teach us that we too might look deeper and make the most of what we have been given.

The prose poems are all one paragraph, ranging from a few lines to several pages. They suggest that each one is a single thought. But that single thought attracts other thoughts to it like a magnet so that by the end of the poem it feels filled to the brim with portent. The poems themselves gesture towards an excessiveness. In the title poem, "The Most It," the speaker tells of a petite aunt who works at sewing in a window all day whose handwriting is so big that a child could curl up inside the letters. When her mother received a letter from the aunt, it had to be unrolled in the street and the whole neighborhood got on their roofs to read it, a joyful occasion for everyone. The poems in this collection themselves seem like the aunt, modest pieces about modest objects and events that belie their actual largeness and abundance, even excessiveness.
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Format: Paperback
Amazon got me! The review of Madness, Rack, and Honey in the Poetry Foundation's monthly mag compelled its purchase and then Amazon suggested other titles one of which was "The Most of It". When I read the first piece about a desired fantasy to have sex when it snows, I was delighted with my add-on purchase. Ruefle's prose has spaces and meditations that carryover or maybe start with creations as a poet. Perhaps there are times when step by step rational thought disciplined by logic has utility, but insight like metaphor brings a wider and deeper grasp of whatever is under consideration. And that is why I recommend "The Most Of It." Ruefle works for insight using reflection and meditation as her tools and the reader is rewarded with an understanding that comes about just the same way it does in the best poems.
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Mary Ruefle was called "the best poet in America today," by Jack Meyers, then-poet laureate of Texas. I believe it, and this book will make you believe it, too.
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These very short pieces are strange and compelling. I'm glad to have read this book and will be including a few of the pieces in a course I'm teaching on extra-short works of literature.
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