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Showing posts with label Pisgah Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pisgah Review. Show all posts

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Excerpt From Turnback Creek by Lonnie Busch



The reflection of the moon shattered when Cole’s lure hit the water. He stared at the rings radiating out, at the moon slowly repairing itself on the black surface. Cole hated fishing on nights like this—when the bass weren’t biting, the stillness so complete it seemed the world had stopped breathing—but night was the only time he had for himself.
Even the unexplainable breeze that always spread a faint ripple across the surface of Turnback Creek was oddly absent. Cole had just cocked his wrist to cast again when he heard a noise deep in the woods, a rumbling mechanical sound like a generator firing, a deep popping followed by a dull continuous thudding. He imagined one of those big Hollywood wind machines, the kind he’d seen on the MGM Studio tour out in California years ago, except that those fans weren’t nearly as noisy as this contraption. This sound brought to mind a bulldozer, but he quickly ruled that out—no one would be crazy enough to drive a bulldozer in the dead of night. Not in the woods.
Using his trolling motor, Cole pointed his bass boat toward the commotion. Halfway across the cove, the noise stopped. Instinctively, he drew his foot from the pedal, as if to match the sudden silence, the boat drifting soundlessly through the darkness. He swept his gaze across the woods along the bank, the trees and foliage forming a black jagged wall. His eyes burned from lack of sleep and his back was sore from lifting Elsie. When the rumbling sprang to life again, he laid his fishing rod down and turned the boat toward the bank.
Lonnie Busch is both artist and writer, and designed the cover for his novella, Turnback Creek. His short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in such publications as Southwest Review, The Minnesota Review, The Baltimore Review, The Southeast Review, Roanoke Review, Talking River Review, Flint Hills Review, Willow Review, The Iconoclast, Pisgah Review, MoonShine Review and others. Stories of his have also been finalists in the World’s Best Short Short Story Competition in 2004, The Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction in 2005, and most recently, the Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Award.



As a painter/illustrator, Busch has created artwork for corporations and institutions across the United States, including the 2002 “Greetings from America” stamps and the 2004 “Summer Olympics” stamp for the US Postal Service.



His most recent projects include the cover for Jimmy Buffett’s novel, A Salty Piece of Land, as well as a block of forty stamps for the Postal Service in May of 2006, entitled, “Wonders of America.” He now makes his home in the mountains of North Carolina.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Book Review by Gary Carden


Turnback Creek by Lonnie Busch
Huntsville: Texas Review Press $12.95 – 65 pages

In reading the works of major Southern writers in recent years, a singular theme repeatedly emerges: the protean nature of water. In the novels of Ron Rash, water appears as both lethal and life sustaining (Saints at the River); while in One Foot in Eden the building of a dam obliterates a small farming community. At other times, water is an agent of renewal or teasing mystery. In the writings of James Dickey (Deliverance) and William Gay (Provinces of the Night), water sometimes brings violent transformations. Lonnie Busch’s slender novella, Turnback Creek, manages to embody many of these diverse themes in this skillfully crafted work - only 65 pages – a truly amazing accomplishment! In essence, Turnback Creek represents a kind of literary distillation in which the author has stripped his story to a polished crux.This accomplishment has not gone unnoticed. Turnback Creek has received the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize and the praise of his peers, many of whom stress the work’s resemblance to a parable of life, death and redemption. The book’s protagonist, Cole Emerson, is a man who is in the process of “coming to terms” with his misspent life. Now in his 70’s, Cole finds himself living on a small farm in a remote section of Missouri. He has lived a heedless, nomadic existence as a heavy equipment operator, often bragging of pulling down a white-collar salary operating backhoes and tractors. He has little to show for it. At the end of his life, Cole, now a widower and estranged from his daughter, spends his days tending a dying sister. At night when the sister is sedated, he fishes a tributary of Hartman Lake called Turnback Creek and ponders the past. It is here that he first encounters Hannah, a naked fourteen-year-old girl, who emerges from the darkness one night, driving a backhoe through the moonlit woods adjoining the lake. Is she real? Is she perhaps a projection of Cole’s yearning for his own lost youth? Regardless, the naked girl behaves like a demonic sprite as she struggles to control the backhoe. The old man is transfixed by the girl’s antics. Further, Cole senses that she knows he is watching her, and when he turns his boat towards home, he sees the moonlit figure on a cliff above the lake. The next night, he is back, hoping she will appear again. In time, Cole comes face-to-face with the girl and learns that her name is Hannah. Despite daylight encounters that reveal Hannah to be a troubled and angry teenager with an alcoholic father, the old man continues to perceive her as a near-supernatural being. Cole becomes obsessed with Hannah and finds himself plagued by guilt and foreboding. He begins to brood about his former jobs – removing coffins from graveyards that are destined to be flooded, constructing dams and diverting rivers. When Hannah asks Cole to teach her to operate the controls of the backhoe, he discovers that she intends to dig a hole near her home … a hole deep enough to “bury a man so that he will never be found.” Finally, Cole perceives a disturbing parallel between Hannah’s irresponsible father and his own sire – another heedless, undependable man who mysteriously vanished one day as though “the earth had swallowed him.” There is much to admire in Turnback Creek. The beauty of Busch’s descriptive passages are noteworthy, especially those that capture the haunting imagery of a lake at night, the sheen of moonlit water and the plop of a lure. Reading these passages brought to mind, Any Cold Jordan by David Bottoms, another midnight fisherman who can capture the soft whistle of a cast line and the splash of a moon-drunk bass. Lonnie Busch is currently serving as co-editor (with Jubal Tiner) of the quarterly literary magazine, Pisgah Review, which is based at Brevard College.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Conversations at the Conference

One of the most important parts of a writing conference is networking, or talking with other writers or people who are a part of the literary world. I enjoyed meeting Jubal Tiner and Lonnie Busch who publish the Pisgah Review. They had a table set up near the meeting rooms and they met a number of writers, I’m sure. Lonnie’s book Turnback Creek as well as the Review attracted attention. I wish more of our Netwest writers had been there making the connections they need to sell their books or stories and articles.

Press 53 is an up and coming southern press located right here in North Carolina. Marjorie Hudson’s book, The Search for Virginia Dare, was published the second time by Press 53. She wore a big pin on her shirt promoting her publisher. Press 53 goes beyond publishing your manuscript. They have contacts with film companies and Marjorie’s book could be picked up by an independent film company. She has been fortunate to have her book become a favorite of book clubs whose members arrive in Manteo, NC where they read about Virginia Dare and visit the places mentioned in the book. More and more writers are trying to take advantage of Literary Tourism. Surely writers in western North Carolina and North Georgia should be able to find a way to do that. We do have some tourists come here in the summer and in the fall.

Sitting with Marjorie Hudson at breakfast on Sunday, I met an agent from Washington, D.C. She had worked in New York and she recommends that your agent, if living outside of the big apple, have experience in the publishing world in New York. This agent had turned down Marjorie’s book, but said she had liked it. She had to consider what her company would want, however.

Sitting at the same table that morning was Amy Tieman who has the blog, mojomom, and also a book by the same title. She is young, but extremely intelligent about her business and the digital world we live in today. She left the table to go and get ready for her panel discussion on blogging, podcasting and other digital matters above my head. Later, I’ll tell more about that session which was full with standing room only.