Thursday, July 21, 2005

Frederick Busch's North

Somehow I overlooked that another of my favorite writers has a new novel (May 2, 2005--I must have been distracted by the KY Derby?!). I just saw it when I was browsing for Cormac McCarthy's latest. North is apparently a sequel to his excellent 1997 novel Girls, about a small, college-town security guard who gets involved in the abduction case of a young girl. The mystery aspect is folded into the story of his struggling marriage after the death of his own baby daughter. Busch is great at delving into the scarred and damaged psyches of his characters and the difficult relationships that they involve themselves in.

I've read the harrowing Closing Arguments, War Babies, and The Night Inspector--one of the best American novels of the last decade or so. The eponymous inspector is Herman Melville--after his literary career has wound down and he is working at a civil service job inspecting ships' cargo. He is not the main character, but is a friend to the protagonist--this time both physically and psychologically damaged. An ex-Civil War sniper, haunted by his killings, and now fated to wear a mask to disguise the disfigurement of his face. It's sinister and creepy and wonderful--set in post-war New York City--a look at the underbelly of American experience.

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