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Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty
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Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  296 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Published (first published September 1st 1973)
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Apr 21, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a hard book to sum up in a few words. Fascinating and compelling, yes; heartbreaking, often; hair-raising sometimes; exasperating, occasionally. Mostly, it is a vivid reminder of what it is to be still very young, naive, and adventuresome. It's also a book that's very hard to put down.

The reader, of course, knows from the start that Everett Ruess disappears at the age of 21 while on a walkabout somewhere near the Colorado River, in the remote 1930s wilderness of southern Utah. Gifted, br
Nov 28, 2007 Ogross rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I was reading Into the Wild, I kept thinking how much Chris McCandless' story reminded me of this biography about Everett Ruess. No surprise when Into the Wild had a whole chapter about that very same comparison. I loved this story, especially reading all the letters Everett wrote during his time traveling around the Southwest in the 1930's. Both books truly touched some part of me that yearns to leave all the trappings of our consumerist society behind. I thought anyone who read this would u ...more
Jun 09, 2009 Vicky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I reread W. L. Rusho's Everett Ruess: Vagabond for Beauty , the letters of Ruess and the story of the various searches for him after he disappeared in 1934. This book is one of my favorites and even prompted, many years ago, a hike down into Davis Gulch to follow Ruess' last trail (as it turns out, he was miles away on the other side of the Colorado when he was murdered). His writings about and passion for the canyon country remain a testament to the strong feelings this country evokes.
Oct 24, 2007 Chad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unbeknownst to you, the teenager you pass on the street may be an artist, a writer and the main character in a great adventure. And... there are others who feel the Utah's red-rock desert is so beautiful that it almost kills a sensitive person who immerses himself in it.
Feb 21, 2016 Bakunin rated it liked it
Shelves: adventure
"My face is set. I got to make my destiny. May many another youth be by me inspired to leave the snug safety of his rut, and follow fortune to other lands"

As I have a tendency to become overworked by irrelevant (albeit it work-related) tasks, it is nice to every now and then try to get a fresh perspective on things. Evert Ruess was a young man who decided to determine his own destiny by traveling through the wilderness of Arizona and Utah. This book is a collection of letters he wrote to the peo
Nov 29, 2011 WhizKid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The letter between Everett & Christopher Ruess. Everett asks questions and his father reply back in a letter.

1. Is service the true end of life? No, but rather happiness through service. Only as we play our part, as a part of the whole, aware of the interrelationedness, do we really and fully live. You and I are like the right hand or the right eye or the big toe-we are grotesque when living apart.

2. Can a strong mind maintain independence and strength if it is not rooted in material indepen
Sep 10, 2012 Connie rated it it was amazing
i loved that this is a true account. his letters and block prints capture a pure adventurer and bohemian spirit in raw parts of the american west. this book was such a surprise to find.
Mark Hainds
Sep 10, 2014 Mark Hainds rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Adventurers and Misfits.
Recommended to Mark by: Ad Platt
I very much enjoyed this collection of letters written by Everett Ruess. He is a kindred spirit, with an accomplished writing style that eluded me at his age. To this book, I award five stars for content, but one star for binding. My new copy fell to pieces while I was reading it. The pages separated from the spine in short order.
We don't know how Everett Ruess met his demise, but I am pretty sure he wouldn't have changed anything about his life, even had he known the consequences of his solitar
Owen Curtsinger
May 06, 2016 Owen Curtsinger rated it really liked it
Reading Everett's letters puts you right back in the restless questioning that we often face around age 20: where am I going? What kind of people do I enjoy being around? How do I want to spend my time and energy, and what are the forces that inspire me most to do so? His musings put me right back in that era of life, showcasing the naivety of youth, the struggle to find a place and people that make one feel at home, and the harsh questioning of the forces that shape a life. As such, reading the ...more
Dec 31, 2014 Juliana rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorites
Mar 18, 2008 Jared rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A little-known gem.
Jun 17, 2013 Rob rated it liked it
This was a good book in that it allows you to draw your own conclusions about Everett Ruess, who left home at the age of 16 to wander, explore, and seek inspiration in the south-west desert. It is primarily a chronology of letters, poems, and artwork produced by Everett over a 4 year period that was mostly spent wandering alone or intermittently with locals and native americans. The author only fills in gaps where necessary. This biggest gap is obviously his unexplained disappearance at the age ...more
Oct 19, 2011 Linda rated it it was amazing
I had not heard of Everett Ruess before promoting the thought that
“The secret to youth is to fill your mind with beauty.” Then, a
friend sent this book containing his letters my way. At first, I was disappointed reading what a seemed a laundry list of mundane items requested from his family by a youth seeking truth. He wandered up the coast of California from his home in Hollywood. A casual interest emerged as I live in Los Angeles and have frequented many of the places described eloquently by
Dec 02, 2008 Kenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pat Murphy
Aug 03, 2015 Pat Murphy rated it really liked it
I read this book because it was suggested in the notes of Into the Wild by Krakauer. It is the same kind of phenomenon.A young, intelligent man goes off to be ultimately by himself in a remote area and dies. The cause remains unknown and they aren't even sure they found the body. The era is the 1930's so they didn't have all the science that exists today. I found it very interesting.
Chris Woollet
Jan 06, 2013 Chris Woollet rated it it was amazing
I love Everett Ruess, his life story, his writings, his block print art and perhaps most of all his reckless life of adventure in the wilderness. This is my favorite of his writings. He expresses and deep love and passion for adventure and nature that strikes deep to the heart. And clearly they are not empty words but true expressions of the life he lived. He really put a lot of thought and effort into his letter writing (had a lot of time on his hands!), much more so than his journals, and to h ...more
Ryan Trimble
Jul 23, 2014 Ryan Trimble rated it it was amazing
The letters of Ruess are straightforwardly breathtaking. His prose about nature is stilling; his passion for living incendiary. The insights of this 20-year-old lost boy are poignant and ever readable.
Dec 26, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it
Ruess' letters paint some marvelous vistas, characters, and moments and vividly remind me of why I also love the wilderness, especially the American southwest. While not as poetically skillful as Abbey, these emotional and personal missives are still a beautiful read. I'm especially inspired by the distance, time, and area he covered at such a young age with little to no outdoors training and none of the modern gear or contrivances I'm used to.

At times his naïveté and excessively flowery prose a
Feb 18, 2016 Kasey rated it liked it
Though he appeared to many to be an aimless vagabond, he was in fact driven, not only to find beauty, but to communicate an interpretation of that beauty to the world. In a real sense, he was not a free spirit. Furthermore, at age twenty, his quest had just begun.

"You knew the crazy lust to probe the heart
of that which has no heart
that we could know,
toward the source, deep in the core, the maze, the secret center where there are no bounds.

Hunter, brother, companion of our days:
that blessing wh
Sep 04, 2015 Rknickerbocker rated it really liked it
I did not know I would be so enthralled reading the letters and musings of a nineteen year old. A fascinating tale of a human without finality.
Cooper Renner
Jan 10, 2016 Cooper Renner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mix of letters by the subject and writing about the subject to create a kind of biography as well as to ponder what might have happened when he disappeared.
Jan 08, 2011 Ty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
love it.everett ruess was giant amoung midgets.he had a thought process we cannot comprehend to this day
it was amazing to me how educated he was.often i could not believe a teenager was writting such beautiful things about what he wittenessed and thought.he seemed mature beyond his times you get the impression he was an old man looking back on his youth(but wasn't).r.i.p. everett (maybe someday i too, can witness a small portion of the sandstond world you have known and loved).........
Sep 14, 2011 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just recently learned about Everett Ruess and how he liked to wander the desert for months on end while he wrote and painted. I really enjoy accounts of lives such as his, one who breaks away from normal life and pursues truth in the wild. I found this collection of his letters fascinating. They really provide a window into who he was and what he loved.

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys such tales as that of Christopher McCandless.
Jan 14, 2014 Ogross rated it it was amazing
Read years ago and something made it come to mind today. A wonderful and heartbreaking collection of letters written by a young artist wandering the Southwest.
Sep 11, 2011 Richard rated it it was amazing
Everett Ruess was a Depression-era Christopher McCandless (Into the Wild) who attended Hollywood High and disappeared in Utah in 1934 at the age of 20. This is mainly a collection of letters he wrote to people back home during his travels around the Southwest. An interesting, touching and ultimately mysterious portrait of a kid out of step with the rest of the world.
Really interesting to "go to the source" and read about Everett from his own lips after reading all the other stuff about him (Edward Abbey, Jon Krakauer, Mark Taylor, etc.) --- I hope that Rusho is still around to issue an "afterword" with his take on the discovery of Everett's body in the ridge above Comb Wash ... worth the read if you're an Everett fan...
Aug 05, 2008 Rae rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-memoir
In the 1930s, Everett Ruess disappeared at the age of twenty-one while hiking somewhere in the wilds of southern Utah. Prior to his disappearance, he had studied with Edward Weston, Maynard Dixon and Dorothea Lange and had traded prints with Ansel Adams. He wrote letters home to his parents during his wandering years. His body has never been found.
I really wanted to read this book. I had it sent in from a lending library and was so excited to get it. It is mostly comprised of diary entries and they are interesting, but many are very, very similar. It's an interesting story and I'm glad I read it, but it wasn't as riviting as I hoped it would be.
Landon Hale
Jul 12, 2015 Landon Hale rated it it was amazing
Absolutly remarkable. I have looked up to Everett in the ways of perusing endless beauty and presenting it through writing and this book made me feel even ten times stronger about the young vagabond. I think Rusho did a great job with his research and theories. A must read! Ten stars!!!
Nov 09, 2007 Christi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, outdoors
This is such a fantastic book. Not only is it amazing because it tells the story of Everett Ruess's short life but it includes different essays and quotes. Ruess had a talent for writing and if he had lived longer would have been famous for it I believe. Great story.
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“I must pack my short lifer full of interesting events and creative activity. Philosophy and aesthetic contemplation are not enough. I intend to do everything possible to broaden my experiences and allow myself to reach the fullest development. Then, and before physical deterioration obtrudes, I shall go on some last wilderness trip to a place I have known and loved. I shall not return.” 7 likes
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