Dust to Dust: A Memoir

Dust to Dust: A Memoir

Benjamin Busch

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0062014854

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Tim O’Brien meets Annie Dillard in this remarkable memoir by debut author Benjamin Busch. Much more than a war memoir, Dust to Dust brilliantly explores the passage through a lifetime—a moving meditation on life and death, the adventures of childhood and revelations of adulthood. Seemingly ordinary things take on a breathtaking radiance when examined by this decorated Marine officer—veteran of two combat tours in Iraq—actor on the hit HBO series The Wire, and son of acclaimed novelist Frederick Busch. Above all, Benjamin Busch is a truly extraordinary new literary talent as evidenced by his exemplary debut, Dust to Dust—an original, emotionally powerful, and surprisingly refreshing take on an American soldier’s story.

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the lure and call it back. “It’s a shame,” he said. “Used to be there were good trout here.” “They all get caught?” I asked, having fished this spot myself for years with little result. “Naw. I reckon they moved. The river changed. Used to be there were deep rapids here at the bend.” “What happened to them?” “Well, it’s hard to say. The river shifted. I guess the floods pushed the rock away and the water slowed down. That pool there was never here. Trout need fast water. You’d need to build

raked them into a pile on an old white bedsheet. I would make a sack by lifting the corners of the sheet into the middle of the pile and gathering the four ends in one hand, then I would carry it over my back to the compost pile. There was a faint smell of stale tea in the air. Raking leaves and planting daffodil bulbs were the last acts before snow fell. In the 1970s, winter brought deep snows to central New York. Games turned to short days outside with too much clothing on and long periods

were dead. In their heads, their memories were quietly rotting. It is for a brief moment that the living and the dead should share the surface. These dead had stayed too long, abandoned, forgotten, or lost. If I stayed in the trailer, I might see them shed their skin and break into pieces. I could watch dust and earth conclude on the floor and lay there until someone opened the door again. I sometimes imagine, now, that the entire earth, just beneath us, has a layer of bones that we have left. It

fields. The Sangerfield merged into the Chenango River south of Poolville and continued down the valley to the larger town of Sherburne, running along the railroad tracks, swelling with tributaries until it became the Susquehanna and emptied into the Chesapeake Bay hundreds of miles away. We moved in the direction of the water, finding a house in the shale hills above Sherburne in country large enough that we could not see any neighbors. It was like a colonial outpost, and I set to work as if it

woodchuck began to grow large grazing in it. On a day off, I lay on the roof of the trailer with my rifle, waiting for him. It was hours before he ambled up to the corner of my plot; I held my breath and shot him through the head. There was no hunter’s celebration, no trophy to mount, but I took a picture of the rifle and the woodchuck lying beside each other and sent it home. I had a rifle—and I could use it. At night I worked at a Kay-Bee Toys store in a worn-down mall nearby and offered

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