The Ruricolist is now available in print.


The ending is the most important part. Not in all arts: pictures are endless. Not even in music, where skipping ahead is bad faith. But in writing the ending is definitive. You do not know how a sentence is meant, whether you are being told or being asked, until you reach the end.

The problem with endings is that they are all a kind of punctuation, artificial because the criteria of a good ending are abstract. A speech sums up; a sonnet turns; a story rounds off when something recurs. The key determines the cadence.

I have good reasons to prolong the Ruricolist; I feel how much I owe to it. But I must admit that the Ruricolist is over. The essay series has its natural term. These have been long years and I am different from the man I was when I began. His clothes no longer fit.

In conversation we are improvisers. For our improvisation to succeed, we must be willing to take whatever comes, trusting the outcome as we trust one another. We never say all we meant to say, or everything we think of, but that is the point: as much as we spend, we leave enriched. Now, at the end, I can affirm what I wrote at the beginning: I wrote for myself – not for friends, not for followers, not for an audience, not for posterity. This was my end of a conversation. And since this was a conversation, it must end as all conversations do, with a kind of aposiopesis, when the bill arrives, the sun comes up, the car stops, and suddenly we part.