Rex Ruthman is an attorney and founder of the Spinney Group property development and management company.
"I am a book landfill. Science fiction; biographies in general; some poems of Dickinson, Yeats, and Frost; Marvel Comics; pulp.
Among so many great writers and styles, I would mention Dickens, Conrad, Shakespeare, Nietzsche, Jack London, Henry Miller, and Tennessee Williams. For me their writings generate particularly expansive and compelling forces. They write, surpassing words."
The extravagant feel of escape:
The Colossus of Maroussi
By Rex Ruthman
The light of Greece opened my eyes, penetrated my pores, expanded my whole being.
— Henry Miller
I think I lack the kind of ordered mind that does well with essay type questions. I tend to sprawl across them. That’s part of my defensive reaction, I think, to being pinned down to squeeze out a writing product, like a real writer would, or a chicken an egg. Still, your gentle prod I might rummage up something has reminded me of a sort of sacred moment and I pass it along to you.
As a solitary kind of boy, after draining the juvenile literature of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Zane Gray, Frank Baum and the like from the San Francisco public libraries, I migrated to what would later prove to be great pulp sci-fi. It was sold in drug stores alongside other timeless and delicious youth literature of the time like Tales From The Crypt.
A first edition of The Colossus of Maroussi published in 1941 by Colt Press in San Francisco.
This literature was presented with very interesting art, depicting scantily clad young women in the grip of something ugly about to rip their bodices. What could be better than a good science fiction anthology decorated by juicy females who needed to be rescued and ravished between stories?
But the pulps only came out quarterly, and I endured periods of withdrawal, left to scavenging for what I might have missed from writers inhabiting the outer ranges of imagination. In extremis, I would roam the bookstores, new and used, prepared to pay to read escape pulp if I had to.
On one of those forays, I see myself in memory's eye spinning a book rack for a possible candidate and coming across a cover with a god-like being rising up in watery cascades of glory, up, up, and up! In grand letters over this rising being, The Colossus of Maroussi announced itself.
“Ah,” I thought, “a possibility.”
I didn’t recognize the author, one Henry Miller, but The Colossus of Maroussi had the extravagant feel of escape I was looking for. Well, I opened Colossus and fell through it, like a wormhole, into an astonishing experience of self I had not even imagined possible. I had fallen from my intended escape backwards into the human, the world of Henry Miller.
Without concealing shrouds, there was Miller, dressed or undressed, luminous, ubiquitous, unfolding and expanding the busy universe of himself, his friend Katsimbalis and Greece with the most astonishing writing I had ever encountered. Sixty years later, the background radiation of that experience, the expansion of human vastness within the tactile and immediate, Miller’s writing still shimmers.
The alien worlds I had been disappearing into had not the breath of Miller's words across the brain, his rubbing immediacy, the vibration of his sensations, the thrill of words he infused with his visions.
I had not known I was ripe for explosion into water, sunlight, dreams and flesh; ripe for an expansion of being human. I had no idea one could reach such possibilities in writing. At 14, Henry Miller gave them to me. I still regret finishing Colossus. I think its final page ranks among the great last pages of our literature.