Dust to Dust

Dust to Dust

4.0 17
by Benjamin Busch
     
 

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“A wonderful book, original in concept and stunningly written.”
—Ward Just

“Elegiac, funny, wistful, deep, and wonderfully human, Dust to Dust moved me to laughter and tears, sometimes simultaneously.”
—Karl Marlantes, bestselling author of Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War

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Overview

“A wonderful book, original in concept and stunningly written.”
—Ward Just

“Elegiac, funny, wistful, deep, and wonderfully human, Dust to Dust moved me to laughter and tears, sometimes simultaneously.”
—Karl Marlantes, bestselling author of Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War

Tim O’Brien meets Annie Dillard in this remarkable memoir by debut author Benjamin Busch. Much more than a war memoir, Dust to Dust brilliantly explores the passage through a lifetime—a moving meditation on life and death, the adventures of childhood and revelations of adulthood. Seemingly ordinary things take on a breathtaking radiance when examined by this decorated Marine officer—veteran of two combat tours in Iraq—actor on the hit HBO series The Wire, and son of acclaimed novelist Frederick Busch. Above all, Benjamin Busch is a truly extraordinary new literary talent as evidenced by his exemplary debut, Dust to Dust—an original, emotionally powerful, and surprisingly refreshing take on an American soldier’s story.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Son of celebrated novelist Frederick Busch, Benjamin Busch carries us on a haunting, humorous, and poignant journey in search of himself and his parents, especially his father. Reducing his life to the purest elements that compose it—soil, water, blood, bone, ash, stone, wood, metal, arms—the younger Busch intersperses stories of growing up in North Carolina, rural New York, and California with his harrowing and life-defining experiences on the sports field and on the battlefields of Iraq. While his father experienced the world through language and had an intellectual relationship with the physical universe, Busch gains comprehension of his environment by throwing himself against it. His father builds with words, but the son builds with pieces of earth and comes to understand life through digging, cutting, climbing, and stacking. Drawn to high school football because of its armor—which protects him in the combat of adolescence and separates him from the belief in injury—Busch charges down the field one Friday night with all his energy channeled into plowing into and tackling the runner returning the game’s opening kick. Struck in the knee—which was unprotected by pads and armor—by a teammate, his leg seems to unravel around the bone, and in that moment his entire life is defined by physical pain and the will to survive it. Though his father feared the insignificance of his prose and his death, the younger Busch defiantly stares down both, living boldly in the face of mortality. Agent: Elaine Markson. (Mar.)
Ward Just
Dust to Dust is a wonderful book, original in concept and stunningly written, a soldier’s memoir that is about soldiering and much else besides. The last two dozen pages are a tour de force, a breathtaking meditation on loss and remembrance, dust to dust.”
New York Journal of Books
“Extraordinary. . . . It is impossible to read any part of this work and not be moved. . . . [Dust to Dust] is one to be savored. Don’t fail to read it.”
New Yorker
“[Busch’s] portrayal of the war in Iraq is unsentimental and immediate.”
Men's Journal
“Essential Iraq War reading. . . . The conflict between Busch’s pacifist upbringing and his evolution into a decorated Marine rests at the heart of this fine memoir.”
Seattle Times
“Beautifully written. . . . Captivating. . . . It’s fascinating to journey through [these] literary landscapes as time passes, swirls back, and eddies like a stream before flowing away.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Busch writes with eloquence about his tours of combat in Iraq, and seamlessly blends the human and natural characteristics of war.”
Buffalo News
“Intriguing. . . . A worthwhile read.”
New York Times Book Review
Dust to Dust is not a typical contemporary war memoir. . . . It partakes of the pastoral strain associated with World War I trench-poets like Edmund Blunden and Edward Thomas.”
Details
“[A] must-read memoir.”
Salon.com
“A remarkable book—part military memoir, part childhood reminiscence. . . . Busch is filled with complicated and fascinating contradictions.”
The SunBreak
Dust to Dust is startlingly good.”
Newark Star Ledger
“A beautiful and powerful meditation on combat, profound loss, and mortality.”
Wisconsin State Journal
“An invigorating and moving take on the war memoir.”
Huffington Post
“A beautiful meditation on war, loss, and the larger questions of life and death.”
Baltimore City Paper
“[Busch] writes with the precision of a stonemason, the courage of a combat veteran, and the inquisitiveness of an artist. . . . A haunting meditation on time, memory, and death.”
Hour Detroit Magazine
"A meditation on the literal and figurative borders of life—country to country, river to lake, soil to dust, wood to ash, life to death, blood to bones, child to man—[that] explores the wonders of the natural world and our solitary lives within it."
Karl Marlantes
“Elegiac, funny, wistful, deep, and wonderfully human, Dust to Dust moved me to laughter and tears, sometimes simultaneously. . . . After reading this book, you will want to go outside and really look at our world.”
Doug Stanton
“Busch is a brilliant prose stylist for whom every pause counts, a man of three worlds—the heart, the mind, the earth. Dust to Dust is a stunning literary work about this mysterious trinity, and a return to home.”
Mary Karr
“This brave soldier with his singular sensibility . . . builds us a fort we’re loath to leave.”
Bonnie Jo Campbell
“Busch is a poet with the soul of a civil engineer, and for as long as his body sustains him, he is the perfect soldier. I loved every page of this mesmerizing book.”
Philip Caputo
“An imaginative, original meditation on mortality that reaches beyond the particulars of the Iraq war and the present day to grasp the universal. It is a literary gem.”
Hour Detroit magazine
“A meditation on the literal and figurative borders of life—country to country, river to lake, soil to dust, wood to ash, life to death, blood to bones, child to man—[that] explores the wonders of the natural world and our solitary lives within it.”
Library Journal
Son of novelist Frederick Busch, decorated marine, and an actor (he was a cop on The Wire), Busch has a life story richer than most. This memoir, with chapters framed by basics like water and metal, blood and bone, considers how we don't put away childish things. At first glance literate and meditative, with some publicity muscle and a 75,000-copy first printing; I'm rooting for it.
Kirkus Reviews
One man's philosophical explorations into the trials of childhood, adulthood and the Marine Corps. In his debut memoir, actor/writer Busch--son of writer Frederick Busch--proves his own literary talents by delving deep into the memories of his coming-of-age amid war and literature. While his poignant, nostalgia-laced boyhood remembrances provide an occasionally entertaining backdrop, far more interesting are Busch's experiences serving in Iraq. Yet even the war scenes take on a meditative gloss, replacing the pulse-pounding moments with muted reflections on life, death and the preservation of memory. In one particularly reflective passage, Busch writes, "People die with their stories every day, taking them and leaving a history of gathered objects." The author seeks to spare himself the same fate, recording the epiphanies and minutiae of his life as if to keep from being forgotten. What the book lacks in narrative arc it makes up for in organization. Busch relies not on chronology, but thematic links, connections between his life and the elements with which he surrounds himself: water, metal, soil, bone, wood and others. The author's ability to reveal beauty in the mundane--the dismantling of a sandbox, the drilling of an ice-fishing hole, the burial of a goat--does much to entice readers, but his somewhat sprawling narrative fails to reach its intended crescendo. Competently written, though weighed down by a narrative more tenuous than tangible.
Elizabeth D. Samet
Dust to Dust is not a typical contemporary war memoir: it is too quiet for that. To some degree it partakes of the pastoral strain associated with World War I trench-poets like Edmund Blunden and Edward Thomas—soldiers whose contemplative connection to the earth in which they lived and fought eclipses the clamor of battle by writing through, or perhaps tunneling under, the experience. War's distillation of violence and tragedy simply offers a more intensified version of the ruin Busch already feels all around him.
—The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062014849
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/20/2012
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
560,785
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are saying about this

Ward Just
Dust to Dust is a wonderful book, original in concept and stunningly written, a soldier’s memoir that is about soldiering and much else besides. The last two dozen pages are a tour de force, a breathtaking meditation on loss and remembrance, dust to dust.”
Philip Caputo
“An imaginative, original meditation on mortality that reaches beyond the particulars of the Iraq war and the present day to grasp the universal. It is a literary gem.”
Mary Karr
“This brave soldier with his singular sensibility . . . builds us a fort we’re loath to leave.”
Doug Stanton
“Busch is a brilliant prose stylist for whom every pause counts, a man of three worlds—the heart, the mind, the earth. Dust to Dust is a stunning literary work about this mysterious trinity, and a return to home.”
Karl Marlantes
“Elegiac, funny, wistful, deep, and wonderfully human, Dust to Dust moved me to laughter and tears, sometimes simultaneously. . . . After reading this book, you will want to go outside and really look at our world.”
Bonnie Jo Campbell
“Busch is a poet with the soul of a civil engineer, and for as long as his body sustains him, he is the perfect soldier. I loved every page of this mesmerizing book.”

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