Rufus, Anneli S. 1959-
RUFUS, Anneli S. 1959-
PERSONAL: Female; given name is pronounced "AN-na-lee." Born June 24, 1959, in Los Angeles, CA.
CAREER: Author, editor, and journalist.
AWARDS, HONORS: Southwest Press Association Award, 1975; Women in Communications Journalism Award, 1977; Joan Lee Yang Poetry Prize, University of California, Berkeley, 1981.
The World Holiday Book: Celebrations for Every Day of the Year, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1994.
Magnificent Corpses: Searching through Europe for St. Peter's Head, St. Chiara's Heart, St. Stephen's Hand, and Other Saints' Relics, Marlowe (New York, NY), 1999.
Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto, Marlowe & Co. (New York, NY), 2003.
WITH KRISTAN LAWSON
Europe Off the Wall: A Guide to Unusual Sights, Wiley (New York, NY), 1988.
America Off the Wall: The West Coast: A Guide to Unusual Sights, Wiley (New York, NY), 1989.
Goddess Sites, Europe: Discover Places Where the Goddess Has Been Celebrated and Worshipped throughout Time, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1991.
Weird Europe: A Guide to Bizarre, Macabre, and Just Plain Weird Sights, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 1999.
California Babylon: A Guide to Sites of Scandal, Mayhem, and Celluloid in the Golden State, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 2000.
Contributor to publications such as San Francisco Chronicle, Fate, Salon.com, ArtNews, Tropical Fish Hobbyist, and Boston Globe.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist and editor Anneli S. Rufus is the author of several travel guides, five of which are coauthored with Kristan Lawson. In her books, she explores a variety of quirky, unusual destinations throughout Europe and the United States. Goddess Sites, Europe: Discover Places Where the Goddess Has Been Celebrated and Worshipped throughout Time, written with Lawson, describes a number of European sites where female deities have been revered. Italy boasts of the sacred grove of Hecate; the Sheilana-gig exposes herself to otherwise staid visitors to Oxford; and Isis/Mary, Star of the Sea, dwells in the Netherlands. The book is "full of wry anecdotes" and "makes discovering the goddess more like family fun than heavy study," commented Robin Bishop in Whole Earth Review.
Magnificent Corpses: Searching through Europe for St. Peter's Head, St. Chiara's Heart, St. Stephen's Hand, and Other Saints' Relics also touches on religion and religious history, but this time with more tangible results. Rufus relates her personal story of visits to some two dozen sites in Europe housing portions of the mortal remains of saints. Rufus admits that as a teenager, she was fascinated by the stories of the pious individuals who maintained their faith even through the agonies of their often gruesome ends. Tongues, hearts, heads, fingernails, hair, blood, even entire bodies—all make up the relics that draw from the miracle of individual saints' lives, and that inspire pilgrims from far-off destinations who gather for a chance to see or touch such vestiges. Rufus relates how relics brought economic benefits to the towns that house them, and how even this sphere of religion succumbed sometimes to trickery and forgery—at least one set of bones attributed to a saint has been positively identified as being the bones of a goat.
Rufus's reactions to the relics are informed by her Jewish upbringing, and her writing helps her come to terms with the veneration that contradicted her own religious education. "Magnificent Corpses is a uniquely exotic 'armchair adventure' that invites the reader to visit unheard-of places and see remarkable sights through the eyes of a hip and hardy writer with an edgy but engaging sense of humor," wrote Jonathan Kirsch in the Los Angeles Times. "Rufus's splendid storytelling takes readers on a European tour not soon forgotten, one that explores religion's fascination with death," commented a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. Kirsch concluded that "both as a travel book and as a meditation on what prompts us to regard a life and the relics of life as holy, Magnificent Corpses is a magnificent if eccentric success."
In Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto, Rufus sets out the notion that people who prefer to be alone are perfectly well-adjusted psychologically, capable of fulfilling relationships with others and productive work in society—they just prefer to spend most of their time in their own company. Rufus draws a definite distinction between being alone and being lonely; loners are happy to spend their time by themselves and to seek out contact with others on their own terms. Far from being friendless and unloved, loners maintain healthy friendships and intimate relationships. Rufus suggests that loners' friendships, while perhaps fewer than their more gregarious colleagues, are stronger than most, and relationships with spouses are more faithful and intense. Rufus also addresses the stereotype of the criminal loner, whose existence taints the enjoyment that true loners derive from their solitude. She "argues persuasively that some of the most notorious criminals—from Ted Kaczynski to Timothy McVeigh—were, in fact, pseudoloners who didn't shun other people's approval but acted out after they were rejected," observed Rhonda Stewart in Boston Globe.
Rufus's "important, at times strident, but wholly unprecedented new book . . . regularly implores 'the mob' not to stigmatize loners—those, like her, who prefer to leave the phone off the hook and let the machine answer," remarked David Kipen in San Francisco Chronicle. "Whenever she isn't blistering society like some one-woman anti-loner-defamation league, she's exhorting loners themselves to quit apologizing and embrace their solitary ways. Whichever category a reader falls into," Kipen stated, "it's a fresh, persuasive argument, riddled with some off-putting tics but never undermined by them." A Kirkus Reviews critic found the book to be "a clever and spirited defense, perhaps more energetic than the actual amount of prejudice requires."
Rufus told CA: "I am inspired to write the sort of books that I would want to read—that offer information and insights I would have found useful, if I could have found them anywhere, written by anyone else. In other words, I write because I have to—because there are readers out there who want this information and these insights, and someone needs to give it to them. That someone might as well be me—and the heartfelt letters and emails I receive regularly from grateful readers indicate that yes, these books needed to be written.
"My books tend to address the independent thinker, the loner (which was itself the subject of my latest book)—the person who lives somehow outside the mainstream but whom I want to encourage to feel self-confident. The purpose of my offbeat travel books (authored with my husband, Kristan Lawson), and my loner book and the rest has been to tell the world, 'Hey, there are a million ways of looking at the world. Call them weird ways if you will—irreverent or untested or whatever. But they're valid, and no one should have to feel ashamed or afraid to follow his or her own star.' If readers need permission to feel okay about being 'weird,' and if I can give them that permission, then I've done my job, and the world will be a much more interesting place as a result."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 1999, Michael Spinella, review of Magnificent Corpses: Searching through Europe for St. Peter's Head, St. Chiara's Heart, St. Stephen's Hand, and Other Saints' Relics, p. 1994.
Boston Globe, May 20, 2003, Rhonda Stewart, "'Party of One' Reassures Loners That They Are in Smart, Creative Company," p. C2.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2003, review of Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto, p. 46.
Library Journal, July, 1999, Carolyn M. Craft, review of Magnificent Corpses, p. 98; October 15, 2000, John McCormick, review of California Babylon: A Guide to Sites of Scandal, Mayhem, and Celluloid in the Golden State, p. 91.
Los Angeles Times, September 4, 1999, Jonathan Kirsch, "An Eccentric Odyssey to See Relics of Faith," review of Magnificent Corpses, p. 2; November 29, 2000, Jonathan Kirsch, "West Words; Guide Tracks Notorious Sites and Names—From Manson to Monroe," p. E1.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 20, 2003, D. J. Waldie, "At Peace with One Self," p. R2.
Publishers Weekly, June 28, 1999, review of Magnificent Corpses, p. 70; January 27, 2003, review of Party of One, p. 248.
San Francisco Chronicle, March 16, 2003, David Kipen, "O Solo Mio: 'Party' Casts Loners as a Misunderstood Class," p. M1.
Whole Earth Review, spring, 1992, Robin Bishop, review of Goddess Sites, Europe: Discover Places Where the Goddess Has Been Celebrated and Worshipped throughout Time, p. 63.
Anneli Rufus Home Page,http://www.annelirufus.com (October 3, 2004).