If you crossed Patti Smith (shaman rock ‘n roller, poet, writer) with Vladimir Nabokov (in his lecturer guise) with Steven Wright (deadpan comic famous for his one liners) you’d have something sort of close to Mary Ruefle. Well, not really. But if you’re a writer, this book’s for you. And judging by the number of dog-eared pages in my copy, which I’ve been carrying around for weeks, Madness, Rack and Honey is invaluable. It has a certain quiddity.

What a word. “The essence of a thing; also, a trifling point, a trivial inessential thing.” ┬áIt’s whatness.

It’s in her book.

At Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she teaches poetry, her lectures have been standing room only for years – they are literary seances, hushed and silent as she communes with our writing spirits. If you write, you need to read this book.

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