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Ruffin's Latest Book Earns High Praise
If you saw a linebacker-looking guy floating across the quadrangle Monday, it was probably Paul Ruffin, English professor, poet, and short-story writer, still high from Sunday's review of his new book in the Houston Chronicle.
"Islands, Women, and God" is a collection of 17 stories about common people from Mississippi, where Ruffin was raised after being born in Alabama, to Texas, his home since he began teaching at Sam Houston State University in 1975.
Sunday's review was by Eric Miles Williamson of Missouri, himself a novelist, who is a graduate of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.
Here are a few of Williamson's comments:
"Ruffin...writes about Texas and the Gulf Coast so well that his new story collection is likely to define the literary territory for many years to come."
"Although the characters are common people, the book is not. These stories are masterful, every line honed and tight and true, the sentences spoken by the characters in phrases we've often before heard but never before seen on the page."
"Ruffin's work has been compared with that of William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor, but his stories are not derivative."
"When Ruffin's men pop, when their natures surface, he is there with some of the most perceptive and powerful observations in American literature, or any literature for that matter."
"Islands, Women and God" is an astonishing book. Every page is beautifully written, splendidly rendered and bold. Where weaker writers grow timid and shrivel, Ruffin burrows deep into truths we know but don't admit to knowing.
"In a time when American writers seem to strive to either shock or soothe, Ruffin instead gives us an honest vision of what lies beneath the veneer of manners and society. He is a master of language and a peerless teller of tales, and he will surely be known as one of the best writers of his generation."
"Islands, Women, and God" was also reviewed by Susan Lowell, for the New York Times Book Review, who said, "Mr. Ruffin's poignant stories linger in the memory like the scent of wood smoke--or gun smoke--on the skin."
The Review of Contemporary Fiction said, "Ruffin's stories are . . . haunting and memorable."
"Islands, Women, and God" is published in hardcover ($24.95) and paperback ($16.95) by Browder Springs Books, out just in time for the holidays. Which should be good ones this year around the Ruffin household.
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