In May 2011, I traveled to my alma mater, Duke University in Durham, NC, to attend the memorial of my mentor, Reynolds Price. Returning to the school felt like returning to my youth there, where I’d pursued my dream of writing fiction, in Reynolds’s class and then beyond. I felt out of my body, seeing myself as I was then, my friends, my life there, and also all the selves I’d been in between, sometimes worse for wear, sometime better. Upon leaving Duke, I wrote two novels over the course of five years, neither of which sold and, despite Reynolds’s urgings to carry on, I gave up.
I’d had such a powerful response to Reynolds’s memorial, though, to returning to that hallowed place, that I began to write an essay about it. But soon a voice from those days entered my thoughts, a girl I’d known there, and soon I’d left the essay and began telling a story from that voice’s vantage point. A love story. It would become “In Short Measures,” the first novella in this collection.
I’m proud to announce the publication today, thirty years after leaving Duke, of my first fiction, and the first non-food writing I’ve done in years. The second novella is a kind of ethical thriller, and the third a story of lost love.
Some of my betters have generously praised the book in advance. Stewart O’Nan (you must read his Last Night at the Lobster, or any of his stellar novels, but Lobster takes place entirely at a Red Lobster restaurant), wrote on their behalf that they “take on the joys and sorrows of romance, especially middle-aged nostalgia for the lost, seemingly perfect loves of the past.”
My friend Kate Christensen kindly said, “Ruhlman’s voice is poetic and visceral, and his characters feel both familiar and strange in the way of the best fiction.” Kate wrote one of my favorite books, The Epicure’s Lament, about an engaging misanthrope who loves food, drinking, and smoking (I couldn’t help but think Bourdain was using a pen name, frankly). Kate also wrote a great food memoir called Blue Plate Special, and a second culinary memoir, just out, How to Cook a Moose.
If you liked this post on In Short Measures, check out these other posts:
- My recent posts on New Cookbook Ideas, Duck Confit for One, and Next Cookbook.
- A couple of my non-food nonfiction books are Wooden Boats, and Walk on Water, the latter is the book I’m most proud of having written.
© 2015 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2015 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.