Thought-provoking, honest and carefully considered, this reminiscence by novelist, critic and teacher Busch (Girls; Closing Arguments) will enhance any writer's--or reader's--reference library. The 16 chapters examine both quality fiction (Dickens, Melville, Thoreau, Hemingway, Graham Greene, John O'Hara, etc.) and Busch's writing life. Although Busch's reflections about other writers are spot on (""As ever, Dickens writes of memory; as ever, he seeks to state a long grudge or wound and then forgive or heal it; as ever, he cannot quite succeed""), what really galvanizes the reader are Busch's observations about writing as a career and his career in particular. The most rewarding essay here (""The Floating Christmas Tree"") is a near flawless retrospective of his marriage, his early career and his sense of promise (""It was a most excellent Christmas because we were what we had dreamed to be--in love and undefeated in New York""). In a similar vein is his almost penitential description of the writer's wife: ""Writers' wives are those women who not only receive the hourly report of shifts in the weather of the soul; they are the women to whom vows are made with as much frequency as to the wives of gamblers, alcoholics, drug addicts, and politicians."" Busch captures the struggle to create worthwhile fiction while also earning a living by doing so: ""money is a letter from the world to an author about his work."" Think of a more cerebral version of Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and you'll have some notion of this valuable hybrid, which combines heartfelt memoir with an ardent love of literature. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1998 Release date: 10/01/1998 Genre: Fiction
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