On the front porch. 9:30 PM. May 7, 2015.
Just read a story by the late Fred Busch. "Timberline”. Story itself is ok but the portrait of the narrator’s good-natured father broke my heart.
That's the way it often is with Fred's stories and novels. The work as a whole will be ok, but along'll come a character or a scene...
...or a passage that breaks your heart. Except Rounds. That one broke my heart from start to finish.
Fred was also good on scenery and the weather. He loved Hemingway but wasn't much like him as a man or a writer except in one way...
Fred could tell you how the weather was in a way that made you feel it. And that's what Hemingway said you had to get right if you’re really a writer.
Fred was also good on marital sex. He made husbands and wives sexy.
There's a scene of outdoor lovemaking in Rounds that’s so sensual, so erotic, so dirty in the way Woody Allen says sex is if you do it right that…
…it made a grad student I used to know start looking forward to a life of monogamy.
Fred's gone, sadly. Died in 2006. Just keeled over. I can't say we were friends.
We met when I was at Iowa and he came to town to read...
He was kind and friendly and encouraging. And he did for me what Andy Griffith tells Jeff Bridges in Hearts of the West you aren't a writer until...
...another writer does for you. Calls you a writer. Fred called me a writer.
We kept in touch sporadically over the years, but we hadn't heard from each other in a while when he died.
So he didn't know about the blog. I wonder what he'd have thought of it. Wonder if he'd have still called me a writer.
If I was a writer that’s what I’d go do now, be a writer and write. But that’s not what I think I’ll go do.
I think I'll go read another of his stories. Have my heart broken again, feel how the weather was someplace.
Adapted from my Twitter feed.
Here’s Fred writing about Hemingway in the New York Times in 1992: Reading Hemingway Without Guilt. This was revised and retitled “Hemingway’s Sentence” for Fred’s collection of essays on the writers and writing, A Dangerous Profession, which is available in paperback and for kindle at Amazon.