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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.

In Short Measures publishes today, available at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

 

If you liked this post on In Short Measures, check out these other posts:

© 2015 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2015 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

 

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14 Wonderful responses to “In Short Measures Is Out!”

  • Susan B

    Congratulations! You’ve shared your wisdom; how lovely now to tell your stories.

  • Claudia

    congratulations, michael! i think the world needed to see that you’re more than just a food writer. to be well known for what you do so impeccably, and then to bare yourself like this is brave. i already devoured the first novella and it is freaking GREAT!

  • Michael Trippe

    Congratulations on your first work of fiction… Just ordered mine and looking very forward to reading it.

    BTW – your ‘check out my other posts’ comment about Walk on Water is dead on. One of the best books I have ever written. I don’t normally read books more than once but that one seems to be calling me from my bookshelf.

    Continued success !!

  • Berti

    Lovely.
    You know? I’d love to see you write a blog post on recommended food themed books like those mentioned above!
    We could then all join in and create a nice list!
    With the holidays coming up, just in time 🙂

  • Rachele

    Just delivered to my kindle. I planned ahead and I didn’t even know it! Hooray for a rainy, cold Friday “damn it” day off tomorrow. #cleveland. Anything else I had planned can wait.

    Congratulations on your new book, Michael!

  • Rachele

    I just finished the last novella last night. Could have devoured all 3 at one time, but I slowed down and used it as a bribe to myself all week, i.e. “Make it through the work day, self, and you get to read another Ruhlman story.” I fell in love with the first heroine. As an insurance agent, I squirmed reading the second story. I broke down in tears along with the protagonist in the last. I also had a lot of fun finding the similarities among the stories.

    Please write more fiction.

  • Michelle

    I am looking forward to reading this. I recently made an unplanned trip to the place of my youth and also had a surprisingly powerful response. It was early spring and the first time in years (decades) that I’d had the opportunity to travel alone, free of family and friends, and experience absolute solitude in a country cemetery at the edge of a cornfield in Kansas. I stood silent in the breeze as the sweet aroma of wildflowers took me back like Proust’s madeleine to a youth in a land I knew so well. Then looking down at the freshly turned earth of a loved one who’d went ahead, I realized that I was at a precipice, and the songbirds in the oaks overhead were an aural reminder that winter will eventually fade. So I can see how going back to a place of our youth can stir the imagination. I cannot wait to read your new book.

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