22 July 2009

Rurritable Reads

a little touch Thomas Hart Benton

"Toil is man's allotment; toil of brain, or toil of hands, or a grief that's more than either, the grief and sin of idleness.
" melville

Many good things have come from my political interest in the 2008 Presidential Election. My friends, clients- all know my political leanings- heading left, fast progressing to Progressive. They don't agree- All- but we still get along very well.

a new sheriff in town

Well, I met the best people in the county while campaigning for our now President. I am happy to know he is there, making things better.

but, about BOOKS.

I asked one of these fellow politicos of the South to weigh in on his book picks. This is no light book tete a tete. He writes the blog Rurritable-

aka rurritable

in his own words:

"He is a farmer, artist and layabout. He cooks, cleans and drinks. He understands and speaks the poultry languages. He vows never to use the third person when referring to himself again."

"I think fiction is a very serious thing, that while it is fiction, it is also a revelation of truth, or facts." J McG


Are we the only two Personians writing a blog? Doubt it very seriously-but I would prefer to think we have the high minded side covered.

The Rurritable is a quite brilliant man- I know this because he married a brilliant woman. They have an enviable farm, beaucoup farm animals and eat beautiful food. They are vegetarians- He cooks, I DID say she was Brilliant,Well, she's smart too!

dreamin' bout cookin'
-this in no way resembles the rurritable or the rurritable's wife

Rurritable writes with an irreverence I envy; he paints, observing today's sensibility-authentic looking maritime paintings. He farms as the ancients did- or as close to it as anyone I hope to know.

what are you reading now?

It's been so long since I've read anything but a service manual for old horse-drawn equipment or a book telling you how to think like a mule, that It took me awhile to answer those questions.

We subscribe to Granta, and I generally read all of the nonfiction offerings, despite the black depressions they can trigger. Occasionally there's a piece of fiction I actually like, or can at least wade through, but it strikes me there are far fewer gifted young writers than there were in the eighties. I'm sure a bunch will cycle through again, and it's just a little dry spell. Harper's was consistently good through the Bush years, and I seem to have found better fiction there than in Granta.

what book do you read that you never tire of?

"He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it." melville

The one book I've probably read through more times than I can count is Moby Dick. Typee is also brilliant, but just doesn't happen to contain that hypnotic, Godlike voice. Melville is the only author who makes me miss the subtle elaborative sentence structure of the Victorians. I regard him as the most technically gifted writer until the appearance of Joyce, and then it's neck and neck. I think about Joyce when I write drunk, or write about politics. Ulysses for the drunk, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man for the arch, grievance centered partisan argument. When I write about politics while drunk, it's the cyclops episode of Ulysses that naturally springs to mind.

"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." melville

Joyce (by C.Ruf)

recommend some noteworthy books:

I always liked John McGahern, but aside from his later works and The Pornographer, his humor, if he employed it at all, eluded me. I should try again now that I have sightly better reading skills.

. Only he could have pulled that stuff off without roundly being derided as a pompous egomaniac. Pnin and Pale Fire. When he writes about the weak and the frail no one is better.

Aleksander Hemon deserved every penny of his MacArthur genius grant, and everything I've managed to acquire and read is astonishing. Especially "The Question of Bruno".
Which reminds me, Bruno Schulz, Robert Walser.

And Hilary Mantel is at the same time one of the best prose stylists at the opening of this century, and the finest horror writer ever to have drawn a breath.

Southern Gothic on scratchboard

There are more..
Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Taylor...

...one can guess the list never ends.

"Methinks that what they call my shadow here on earth is my true substance. Methinks that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like oysters observing the sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the thinnest of air." Melville

painted delft tiles

all art and photographs by rurritable


  1. Interesting. I look forward to wandering around his blog.

    One of the best feelings I had last summer was puttng my Obama sign in the front garden. And replacing it the very day it was stolen. It was, fortunately, only stolen once! He has made me proud of my country once more. After eight long and shameful years.

  2. Mule headed people often inform, entertain, charm and make you think about what you really think.

    I am a proud supporter of Obama, but I seriously think we need to garner up all of the energy we had to elect Obama and work for term limits for US congress. The work of the lobbies and the cronies makes me sick. Congress can't stop the way business in done without a term-limit intervention. Optimist-cynic I am.

  3. As for presidents- the tables have turned between us! You are lucky, but the whole world shares in hope.
    Good and different book selection. Almost makes me want to read Moby Dick- one day I'll get my courage up. Love those animals, esp. Fred!

  4. Thanks, la. Since you posted about Barry Lyndon, I've had Schubert's piano trio and Handel's Sarabande battling each other in my head for pride of place.
    It got me thinking about the harmonic environment of those two pieces, and how they could have been separate movements from the same symphonic work. Kubrick had a deft ear.

  5. I knew Rurritable was an advocate of Moby Dick because he commented on my summer reading list. I can't find my old copy dammit. I want to revisit it and it must be the self-same pages.
    Like his painting; like his mule tales.

  6. to everyone- we do have a great President- thank God he continues to hold his head up high-higher than the critics can reach.
    These painintings I love, of course especially craZy about the maritime ones.


  7. doesn't Joyce resemble that pinhead a bit? g

  8. Just read "In The Heart of the Sea- The Tragedy of the Whaleship ESSEX" which was rammed and sunk by an enraged giant sperm whale. Herman Melville had spoken to the ESSEX's Captain Pollard whose story was the basis for "Moby Dick".

    Reading Jonathan Cott's "The Search For Omm Sety" if interested in Egyptian material.
    Both books are worth researching for 2nd hand copies



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