Ben Busch, our friend and National Writers Series Advisory Board member, has just published his first book, Dust to Dust, with the august and literary Ecco imprint, which is part of Harper publishers. Ben has two local events at 2 great independent books that we wanted to tell you about. He’s just launched an impressive 50 state book tour. He was at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Tuesday night, March 20… and at Schuler’s Books March 21 in Okemos, Michigan. The national book reviews for Dust To Dust are incredible. You have two chances to catch Ben in northern Michigan.

Ben will be at Dog Ears Books in Northport, Michigan, on March 23, from 4-6 PM. Stop by one of Leelanau county’s great literary book stores, get a copy signed to read on Spring Break, and say hello to Ben and Pam Grath, the store’s owner. Pam has an amazing stock of used and collectible books, as well as new titles. Dog Ears Books is one of Northport’s most charming and important anchors.

On March 24, from 5:30-8:30 PM, Ben will be reading and signingDust to Dust at Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City. [Note: this is a time change from the originally published schedule.] If you were at Jerry Dennis’ or Jack Driscoll’s recent book launches at Horizon, you know that the Horizon staff puts on a great showcase for authors. Celebrating 50 years in business in downtown Traverse City, Horizon Books has been for that time a primary downtown anchor, attracting tens of thousands of people through its doors on a yearly basis. Bookstores are big business for downtowns. This is sure to be another great event.

Ben’s publishing of Dust To Dust in itself is an accomplishment, but when you learn that he is also a professional actor (The Wire on HBO, among other shows) and a film-maker (most recently, Bright) and that his photography has been exhibited across the US (most recently at Traverse City, Michigan’s  Dennos Museum, beginning April 15), and that he served two tours as a US Marine in Iraq, where as a lieutenant colonel he was wounded in action, Ben’s accomplishments come into focus as one of a kind.

Whereas most of us seem to narrow in our interests and empathies as we get older, Ben is, as New York Times magazine writer Sara Corbett calls him, a “polymath.” I’ve known Ben a couple of years now. He lives on a farm outside Reed City, Michigan, which he and his wife, Tracy, a Russian studies professor at Ferris State University, and their two daughters, are restoring from the ground up. How he finds time to do this, as well as to write, direct, photograph, and keep current on 1980′s hair-band trivia, I do not know.

Ben is a true friend and a true friend of the arts. His father, the acclaimed novelist Frederick Busch, must’ve imparted some of this to him, but Ben seems to have come by his life sui-generis. He’s completely original, and Dust To Dust is too.

Publishers Weekly said this about Dust To Dust: “Benjamin Busch carries us on a haunting, humorous, and poignant journey in search of himself and his parents, especially his father. Reducing his life to the purest elements that compose it— soil, water, blood, bone, ash, stone, wood, metal, arms—the younger Busch intersperses stories of growing up in North Carolina, rural New York, and California with his harrowing and life- defining experiences on the sports field and on the battlefields of Iraq.”

The New York Journal of Books said this: “There has never been another book like Dust to Dust… It is impossible to read any part of this work and not be moved… In a world with so damned many books in it, Dust to Dust is one worth noting. Worth reading and rereading. Worth keeping and giving away. Out of the piles of books on the shelves, in the stores, online, by the bed, this is one to be savored. Don’t fail to read it.”

How to sum up Ben? He has the eye of a poet and he is a brilliant prose stylist for whom every pause counts. He is a man of three worlds, the heart, the mind, the earth. Dust to Dust is a stunning literary work about this mysterious trinity, and a return to home. Dust To Dust is written with a heat and mastery that is amazing.

Don’t miss Ben when he comes to northern Michigan this weekend– See you downtown, Doug

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