Joe Weixlmann

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 245

Ronald Fair's Rufus develops … [subtly but with impact] from the Book of the Dead. The musical Osiris, deification of life-in-death, lives in the volume's title character….

At first, Rufus's doesn't appear to be a dancin' story. His fatherless birth occurs in a Chicago hospital, in which his mother's chosen...

(The entire section contains 245 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Ronald Fair's Rufus develops … [subtly but with impact] from the Book of the Dead. The musical Osiris, deification of life-in-death, lives in the volume's title character….

At first, Rufus's doesn't appear to be a dancin' story. His fatherless birth occurs in a Chicago hospital, in which his mother's chosen name for her child, Reginald, is taken from him by a "colorless nurse" ("who ever heard a nigger / named Reginald?"). At this, his "first injustice," he screams. But he later concedes that the name change "didn't matter," for "he was / out of time / with any name other than / nigger."… Neither wealth, nor his deadening environment, nor lynchings, nor police assassinations deter Rufus from being himself. Despite all of society's attempts to make him to "factory … stamped … specifications," he remains resolutely individual….

Eventually, the systematized world takes its revenge. Rufus is executed by the police, and his death ruled a "justifiable homicide"….

[Rufus has considerable poetic worth and] at least one of the poems, "Bleached Soul," should become a standard anthology piece; its masterful fusion of irony, folk dialect, soul lyrics, and jazz rhythms mark it as a very special work indeed. Fair is now finishing a 200-page epic poem entitled The Afro-Americans…. Watch out! The man we knew as a novelist—Many Thousand Gone (1965), Hog Butcher (1966) … is fast becoming a major Afro-American poet. (p. 4)

Joe Weixlmann, "Undertaking Some New Black Poetry: 'Rufus'," in The American Book Review (© 1979 by The American Book Review), Vol. 2, No. 1, Summer, 1979, p. 4.

Illustration of PDF document

Download Ronald L. Fair Study Guide

Subscribe Now
Previous

Phyllis R. Klotman