One man’s philosophical explorations into the trials of childhood, adulthood and the Marine Corps.
In his debut memoir, actor/writer Busch—son of writer Frederick Busch—proves his own literary talents by delving deep into the memories of his coming-of-age amid war and literature. While his poignant, nostalgia-laced boyhood remembrances provide an occasionally entertaining backdrop, far more interesting are Busch’s experiences serving in Iraq. Yet even the war scenes take on a meditative gloss, replacing the pulse-pounding moments with muted reflections on life, death and the preservation of memory. In one particularly reflective passage, Busch writes, “People die with their stories every day, taking them and leaving a history of gathered objects.” The author seeks to spare himself the same fate, recording the epiphanies and minutiae of his life as if to keep from being forgotten. What the book lacks in narrative arc it makes up for in organization. Busch relies not on chronology, but thematic links, connections between his life and the elements with which he surrounds himself: water, metal, soil, bone, wood and others. The author’s ability to reveal beauty in the mundane—the dismantling of a sandbox, the drilling of an ice-fishing hole, the burial of a goat—does much to entice readers, but his somewhat sprawling narrative fails to reach its intended crescendo.
Competently written, though weighed down by a narrative more tenuous than tangible.