Thursday, September 28, 2006


Didn't know that Frederick Busch died until I saw it in Harper's this month. Last year he wrote a harrowing essay about his son serving as a Marine in Iraq which appeared in that very periodical. I own a couple of his novels but haven't read them; I know his short fiction only from his appearances in The Best American Short Stories series.

"Ralph the Duck" was one of those stories, and I go back and re-read it every few years because I love it so much, and anyone who crafts a bit of fiction I can't dislodge after 18 years deserves note. In fact there were many excellent stories in that year's edition (1989)--though I haven't kept up with The Best American Short Stories annuals in about a decade because they grew tired and formulaic. We read "Ralph the Duck" in my first writing seminar class at Loyola College a billion years ago. I had bandages on my wrists because I was mauled by a dog--the chicks all thought I was an attempted suicide and for some reason that made me very popular with the ladies in English classes. But yeah, read some of Busch if you get a chance--one of a thousand small-niche writers of good fiction who'll likely fade away too quickly after death.

His latest, excerpted in Harper's:

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