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Don't Tell Anyone

Don't Tell Anyone by Frederick Busch
4 reviews (2000) (336p)
ALA Notable Books - Fiction Finalist

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Book Description
Not since Raymond Carver has the soul of the American family been plumbed as eloquently or as poignantly. The hungers of love and the fear of time drive the men and women, sons and daughters in these stories to speak. Frederick Busch renders precisely the need to connect and shows us the ways--funny, tender, and heartbreaking--in which connections, in spite of love, often fail. In "Heads" a mother is haunted by her own past when her daughter faces an accusation that could send her to jail. In "Malvasia" a daughter gives her bereaved father the courage to go on living. A father suffers over his inability to save his grown son from heartbreak in "Passengers." "The Joy of Cooking" is a brilliant portrait of a failed marriage. Called a "first-rate American storyteller" and "master craftsman" by the New York Times Book Review, Busch brings us into the achingly familiar lives of people caught between the need to tell a story and the fear of speaking out. Review
Domestic life, in Frederick Busch's 17 elegant stories, is like a cracked windshield: one tiny ping of gravel can, in time, fissure the whole thing. In "Machias," a man remembers the exact moment his marriage ruptured; he and his urbane wife were listening to an old curmudgeon, and each came away with an utterly different understanding of the tale, and the man. "I think it possible, as I look back when I dare, that our conversation in the shabby, lantern-lit dining room of the old man's house in Machias was the largest moment of my life. It went on. It is going on." Busch's characters can't help but spill their secrets, and they're pretty grumpy about it. In the ironically titled "The Talking Cure," a young boy works for a veterinarian who happens to be having an affair with his mother. The boy concludes, simply, "It's a story I try not to tell."

Don't Tell Anyone closes with "A Handbook for Spies." This long novella follows the life of a young, and then not-so-young, man whose parents escaped the Nazis in 1930s Paris. He is a professor in love with a married woman (a girl, really) who becomes a repository for his angst. With its dead-on campus milieu, its guilt-ridden sex, its inescapable ghosts of the past, it closely recalls Busch's 1997 masterpiece, Girls. And here, too, Busch comes as near as he ever does to delivering a manifesto on love: "Truly, he thought on one of his icy drives, Kafka is the patron saint of families. He had impressed a woman in graduate school with this observation. She had dated him, and it was not impossible, he thought, that Franz Kafka, snug as a bug in a bed, was the reason. To love, Kafka taught, was to be suspicious of what you must pay for the love." There exists no finer summing-up of Busch's own writing. --Claire Dederer

Other Award Winning Books by Frederick Busch
The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch
32 reviews (1999) (304p) (NBCCA) (PF)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's page
The Children in the Woods by Frederick Busch
5 reviews (1994) (352p) (PF)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's page

Frederick Busch Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 4  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 3  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 1 The Night Inspector ·  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 2 The Children in the Woods · The Night Inspector ·  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award


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