The Stories of Frederick Buschby Frederick Busch, Elizabeth Strout
A selection of short stories from a twentieth-century “American master” (Dan Cryer, Newsday).A contemporary of Ann Beattie and Tobias Wolff, Frederick Busch was a master craftsman of the form; his subjects were single-event moments in so-called ordinary life. The stories in this volume, selected by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout,/p>/em>
A selection of short stories from a twentieth-century “American master” (Dan Cryer, Newsday).A contemporary of Ann Beattie and Tobias Wolff, Frederick Busch was a master craftsman of the form; his subjects were single-event moments in so-called ordinary life. The stories in this volume, selected by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout, are tales of families trying to heal their wounds, save their marriages, and rescue their children. In "Ralph the Duck," a security guard struggles to hang on to his marriage. In "Name the Name," a traveling teacher attends to students outside the school, including his own son, locked in a country jail. In Busch's work, we are reminded that we have no idea what goes on behind closed doors or in the mind of another. In the words of Raymond Carver, "With astonishing felicity of detail, Busch presents us with a world where real things are at stake—and sometimes, as in the real world, everything is risked."
From his first volume, Hardwater Country (1974), to his most recent, Rescue Missions (2006), this volume selects thirty stories from an "American master" (Dan Cryer, Newsday), showcasing a body of work that is sure to shape American fiction for generations to come.
Arriving seven years after the untimely death of novelist and short story writer Busch (Girls), this collection showcases his mastery of the short story form over the span of almost 40 years. Whether his subject is domestic life (“The Lesson of the Hôtel Lotti”) of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (“Good to Go” and “Patrols”), Busch’s method is to take seemingly insignificant moments and, through sudden, subtle strokes of characterization, infuse them with an overwhelming significance. Nowhere is this clearer than in his tales of marriages threatened by infidelity (“Bob’s Your Uncle,” “Joy of Cooking,” “Still the Same Old Story”) and unexpected disasters (“What You Might as Well Call Love,” “Reruns”). “To the Hoop” concerns a father and son coping with a mother’s suicide, while in the superb “Ralph the Duck” a campus guard observes a professor’s exploitative affair with a much younger student. Some of Busch’s most powerful writing concerns fraught bonds between parents and children, as in “Name the Name,” about a teacher visiting his jailed son, or “The Ninth, in E Minor,” about an awkward father-daughter reunion. While his delicate method leads to some moments of ponderous dialogue, the stories have a richness of detail and insight that will appeal to readers of literary fiction and cement Busch’s status as an exemplary craftsman. (Dec.)
Sterling collection of short fiction by a late master (1941-2006) of the short story form. Busch (Rescue Missions, 2006, etc.) has been gone for several years, but he continues to exercise an outsize influence on writers-in-training, enshrined as he is in the creative-writing syllabus. That is for good reason, for if Busch's short fiction concentrates on the quotidian workaday world, it is not with the dourness of Raymond Carver or the bibulousness of Charles Bukowski. Busch announces his stories with attention-getting first lines that demand explanation: "I woke up at 5:25 because the dog was vomiting." "What we know about pain is how little we do to deserve it, how simple it is to give, how hard to lose." "The morning after I drove to his newest town, I met my father for breakfast." His characters are plumbers ("I dig for what's wrong"), ward nurses ("[t]he worst became the orderly who brought in a plate of mashed potatoes and open hot roast-beef sandwich in glutinous gravy"), outdoorsmen ("[i]t's an old Boy Scout trick"), often living in forgotten small towns that have yet to get Internet service. A typical Busch story finds the central character not quite sure of his (rarely, her) place in the world and with some change in the works, sometimes wanted and sometimes not: "I was nine years old and starting to age." It's not a cheery world that Busch inhabits ("the people downstairs were getting along as best they could in their sad, short lives"), but it's full of meaning, and no living writer quite gets at that meaning with the same literate determination. Well-chosen and broadly representative: an ideal introduction to Busch for those new to him and a welcome anthology for those who already know his work.
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Meet the Author
Frederick Busch (1941–2006) was the recipient of many honors, including an American Academy of Arts and Letters Fiction Award, a National Jewish Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award. The prolific author of sixteen novels and six collections of short stories, Busch is renowned for his writing’s emotional nuance and minimal, plainspoken style. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he lived most of his life in upstate New York, where he worked for forty years as a professor at Colgate University.
Elizabeth Strout is the author of four novels including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Olive Kitteridge and, most recently, The Burgess Boys. She lives in New York.
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