The last time I came across Frederick Busch was in October/November of 2009.
Perhaps it’s the distance between the readings that prevented me from recognizing the genius. Busch really is a wonderful writer.
Ralph the Duck gets you right in the heart. This is yet another story that due to my role as a relatively new father, is perceived completely different than I could have absorbed it 3 years ago.
I keep telling myself that the time it has taken me to arrive at the stories I am now reading is purposeful. I am meant to read these stories in this stage of my life.
I do find myself looking back at entries in this journal and reading what I wrote, and not recognizing the man who wrote them.
Some of the entries are very good. Some I can tell that I dashed off just to fill in the box next to “completed”.
It’s hard to admit that. I need to think about what I am writing and my audience.
I was reminded of that in this story:
“You are writing it for posterity. For some mythical reader someplace, not just me. You’re making a statement.”
I’ve thought about eveything here and honestly, I feel the beneficiary of this exercise is me. I’d like to think that someday W will find this and gain a bit of insight to his father. (Yes, I’ve made backups of the whole thing).
What was it that appealed to me about this particular story?
A few things –
The main character is a security guard at a local university. I work in a library at a local university (part-time). He has some similar opinions that I have concerning students.
The character and I are only a couple years apart in age.
He has an affinity for whiskey. He is enrolled in a writing class. I’m not enrolled – I’d like to be…but am not.
He is at a university with a quarry – I have good memories from the quarry at Norwich.
He views professors with a bit of suspicion.
And finally, I think I enjoyed this story because – it’s sad. I lean towards favoring sad stories. Busch was known for his realistic depiction of people, families and their lives – and the sadness that they often encounter.
The main character and his wife have lost a child to death.
Again, if I had read this story three years ago, I doubt that it would have impacted me the way it did today.
I simply cannot imagine surviving the death of a child.
I do not believe that I could ever find the strength to live.
My heart is filled with such love, and to have the source of that love disappear – is unimaginable, and I can only think the unimaginable of myself when faced with that thought.