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Stay humble, keep a decaying book in your yard.

Dan Sheehan

June 13, 2022, 2:05pm

That would be the advice of acclaimed American poet Mary Reufle, who—as tweeted by poet and director of Bennington College’s MFA program Mark Wunderlich yesterday—keeps this creepy decaying book in her yard to remind herself that all literature is vanity, and that all of our earthly deeds, the humble and the heralded alike, will one day disappear with us into the pitiless graveyard clay.

Let the existence of this zombie book, this ghastly literary memento mori, be a lesson to us all.

Feeling smug about writing a particularly good sentence? Go outside and look at the decaying book.

Just secured a six-figure publishing deal for your debut novel? Go outside and look at the decaying book.

45-minute Zoom acceptance speech for your National Book Award appears to have been reasonably well received on social media? Go outside and look at the decaying book.

Alone in your cavernous manse, crystal decanter of Pappy van Winkle at your feet, responding to Goodreads reviewers from your alt account? Go outside and look at the decaying book.

Decaying book gone missing? Neighborhood pets turning up dead? Can’t sleep for the rustle of water-warped pages outside your window at night? Time to murder and display another of your precious books.

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