Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Frederick Busch

I just finished North, the sequel to Girls by Busch. He is one of my favorite writers, who doesn't seem to get the acclaim he deserves. North takes back up with Jack, now a resort security guard in Coastal Carolina (to paraphrase the first-person narrator, he is descending the ladder of law enforcement jobs). Jack has left the scene of his disastrous past in upstate New York, only to return when he meets up with a vacationing NY attorney who wants him to find her troubled nephew--last seen in the same area where Jack has attempted to leave his ghosts. While it sounds like a straight-up mystery/thriller, the novel is much deeper than that. The primary interest is Jack coming to terms with the shards of his memory, with guilt, betrayal, and irremediable loss. He narrates his own story--a fairly inarticulate man who has to struggle with words. He is a good man who has ended up in a mess, but is still trying to fight a way through, which is admirable and unsentimental.

Busch writes taut, muscled prose that can also be very delicately descriptive, and when tracing the vagaries of memory, it can take on a dream-like quality. I haven't read nearly all of his 27 books, but I've yet to find one that wasn't beautifully written. He is a powerful storyteller.

I also found a good, long interview that adequately showcases many of the other reasons I love this writer.

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