Monday, April 15, 2013

Ralph the Duck – Frederick Busch





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.


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