The cover story of the October issue of Metro Magazine remembers Robert Ruark, a North Carolina writer who became a national and international sensation but has been too largely neglected or even forgotten in more recent years. Ruark, a journalist and novelist, was named “the most talked about reporter in the country” in a 1947 Life magazine but was also called “the poor man’s Hemingway” for works ranging from his regular (and popular) articles for Field & Stream to his novels, including his controversial novel, Something of Value, which led to him being banned in Kenya. Still, in those days, who could complain about being compared to Hemingway, right?
I’ve remarked on this site before how difficult it is to find time to read all of the books one would like, and Ruark’s works have long been on my list of books I should read but haven’t found time yet to read. This cover story, by Bill Morris, has prompted me to move Ruark up the stack a little, and even if you don’t plan on tracking down the books yourself, the article gathers some interesting anecdotes and personal reflections on a charismatic figure, and also offers rich insight into how an author can go from notoriety in his lifetime to obscurity after his death — and then insight into what’s being done to resurrect that reputation.
Note: Though the article emphasizes the fact that Ruark has not been tapped for the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame (administered by his alma mater, UNC-Chapel Hill), it’s worth noting that the author has been inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. A short biography of Ruark is available from that site.
— Art Taylor