Customer Reviews for

Dust to Dust: A Memoir

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  • Posted May 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    'Attrition is the mission.' By Grady Harp There are memoirs and

    'Attrition is the mission.'
    By Grady Harp
    There are memoirs and there a Memoirs - usually those relating life experiences come toward the end of life, providing a sage exploration of what has made existence of the reporter on the planet unique, just before finally closing the eyes in a terminal sleep. Some are written as confessions or as leaving clues for the obituary writer whose concern it is to sum up a life soon completely spent.

    Benjamin Busch in DUST TO DUST writes more about life as it is currently molding his psyche, admixing moments of childhood memories with adult confrontations with such ominous beasts as wars and the threat of annihilation, yet in the end his book settles into the rank of great literature - a book so thoughtfully unique, so eloquently written, that instead of a Memoir (and one deserving the capital M) Benjamin Busch has written an extended poem that embraces all the interstices of life as it is being remembered and experienced in as completely involved a fashion as a learned sage of much older years.

    One of the many facets of this book is Busch's decision to divide his book into chapters that are based on the themes of elements - Arms, Water, Metal, Soil, Bone, Wood, Stones, Blood, Ash - a wise technique of traveling from childhood to adulthood in each chapter, ingeniously focusing each level of memory regression based on an aspect of his young years that became part of his direction toward revealing reality as it feels at the present. Childhood preoccupation with fighting and creating battleships and airplanes and the other accoutrements of a young (very bright) boy's mind slowly emerge toward his life as a soldier. But just as toy airplanes made of alley trash and foil never get off the ground despite the longing for consummation of adventurous dreams, so does the commitment to become a Marine Corps officer fail to rise to expectations of glorious battle and instead results in delays and aborted odd missions until the action in Iraq et al when primed conceit is rotted with shrapnel wounds and observation of loss of life - all in meaningless exercises in loss and disillusion.

    Another surprise that accompanies the reader on every page of this book is the manner in which Benjamin Busch has so quickly become a painter - representational and expressionist and impressionist and photographic and collage - with his recreating his childhood and the subsequent move toward adulthood. His depictions of long ago created forts, of his interaction with the vagaries of nature's water bodies and other remembered childhood interactions with the elements are as pulsatile and poetic as are his depictions of Okinawa, Iraq, boot camp, and the response to the death of his parents. And Busch uses this gift of pictorial creation to define a life that is molded by a significant past and constantly altered by the coincidences of the present. Yes there are portions about the author's response to war as he lives it: `I walked though the battlefield as if I were a tourist. I looked at Iran in the near distance. It had battled Iraq with artillery shells that we had sent them in the support of the shah, and Iraq had fired back with shells that we had later given in support of Saddam. We were now hunting that same man, Rumsfeld's old ally, who was, at the moment, hiding in a hole in the dirt, writing orders to his lieutenants requiring their resistance to terrorists we blamed him for befriending, He was hiding in a hole in the yard of a house that had no cellar.' Ludicrous reality reported by a wise Marine who was there. This blend of irony and humor pervades the book, allowing breezes of fresh air to the author's analysis of the passage of time as he has lived in it. `I found it odd that celebration and mourning were coupled in so many single, detached acts. All bullets landed somewhere.'

    In Benjamin Busch's Epilogue he reflects, `I have seen cities destroyed in my life, people buried, graves dug up. I have lived outside in the elements. I know that everything is recomposed from preexisting matter, that we are all fragments from earth and life blown apart and gathered up. Pieces of us are form stars and meteors, the ocean, dirt, and the dead. We will not be able to keep these pieces wither, our bodies doomed to be given back to the ground.' Writing of this quality comes only from great minds - perhaps part of the gift is genetically passed from Busch's father, writer Frederick Busch whose precise, poetic novels and stories delved into the seemingly unspectacular but ultimately profound experiences of people and families grappling with existential crises. What every the ingredients that comprise Busch's gift he is surely one of the more important writers to emerge in a long time: he will not fall into the military phrase that titles this review. He must be read to experience and appreciate his worth. Grady Harp,

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    This is a fantastic book. I loved the unusual, cyclic structure.

    This is a fantastic book. I loved the unusual, cyclic structure. I loved the building of themes. I've loaned this book to several friends who all found it fascinating. Reading this book will make you aware of (perhaps largely forgotten) things from your past that helped make you what you've become.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2012

    I know the author of this book personally, and I can say that th

    I know the author of this book personally, and I can say that this sounds like him. He can bounce between philosophical and ascerbic sarcasm, and this book is the philosophical side of him, captured on paper. It's told in a train of thought style, linking between various stories of his childhood, military experience, and young adulthood. It can be inspiring, it can be amusing, and sometimes it can be a very melancholy tale. I talked with him at a signing, and he told me that I wouldn't understand all of it at 13. And I know I won't. But this is why he's so fascinating to learn about. This book is a projection of his thoughts, almost making you fell like you're conversing with him bout experiences. To pass this over would be a great shame.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2013

    Pierce

    Hello?

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2013

    Dusty

    "Yes im back now and Jake, leave." Move to res three

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2013

    BORDER

    BORDER

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2012

    "Dust to Dust" was an excellent read; a moving meditat

    "Dust to Dust" was an excellent read; a moving meditation on life, death and the experiences of a combat marine/actor/writer/photographer. I enjoyed every word and recommended it to all of my friends.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    Interesting but not as good as it had the potential to be

    I looked forward to this book with great anticipation and while it is a good book it had the potential to be great. I am looking forward to the author's next book and to watching him move from good to great.

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  • Posted April 17, 2012

    Remarkable Story of One Young Man's Life

    i read Busch's article in the Daily Beast about the murders of the Afgans by a young soldier and expected this book to be pretty much about the authors experiences in the Marines. far from it. it was really a journey from his young childhood to the present. and it was a very interesting journey. i hate giving plotlines away, especially when the book has been described by the publisher, so suffice it to say this is a very interesting and very easy read and i highly recommend it.

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  • Posted March 26, 2012

    If you like boring nonfiction books with prose that put you to s

    If you like boring nonfiction books with prose that put you to sleep, prepare to be disappointed. Busch's narrative style spoke to me. I found the book's themes on loss struck a chord with me- one that I perhaps wasn't ready to examine, but had to confront.

    I highly recommend adding this to your collection.

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  • Posted March 24, 2012

    The book featured a circular path for the narrative. He begins w

    The book featured a circular path for the narrative. He begins with his childhood, flashes forward to tell an anecdote about college, then back to his childhood, forward to something about the Marine Corps, back to his childhood, forward to a war time anecdote. As a child he was sort of a loner, wandering around doing s**t, wanting to be a warrior. There seemed to be a lot more about his childhood that really wasn't all that useful in seeing how it formed the warrior. All young boys wander around doing s**t, and playing war. We all dug forts and defended them against invaders. His childhood was about as mundane as 90% of us except for his famous father who doesn't seem to have been a big influence in his life.

    I would have rather seen a single chapter showing what a mundane childhood he actually had to end up a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps, an actor and all the rest. And more time on his formative wartime experiences. All in all a disappointing and unfulfilling read for me. I was barely able to slog through it at times.

    There are far too many better books about the experience, not the least of which is Sebastian Junger's book, 'War'.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2012

    This book will encourage you to explore your own memories and fi

    This book will encourage you to explore your own memories and find in them immense power to bring back those you have lost and discover the endurance of the human spirit. It honors the survival of our childhood while grappling with our departure from it.

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    Posted December 12, 2013

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    Posted March 27, 2012

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    Posted January 16, 2013

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    Posted March 20, 2012

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    Posted April 7, 2012

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