cover image Dust to Dust: A Memoir

Dust to Dust: A Memoir

Benjamin Busch. Ecco, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-201484-9

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.)