Sometimes I live in the country

by Frederick Busch

Hardcover, 1986




Boston : D.R. Godine, 1986.


In this frank story of a boy's growing up, an eighth-grader moves with his cop father to a small town after his parents have suffered through an ugly divorce.

User reviews

LibraryThing member TimBazzett
Yet another Fred Busch novel under my belt. And SOMETIMES I LIVE IN THE COUNTRY may quickly become a favorite book, one of those I beat people over the head with until they agree to read it. No, not really; honest.

What sets this book apart from many of Busch's other books is its 13 year-old
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protagonist. Petey is a very troubled kid, still reeling from his parents' bitter divorce and his sudden move from his Brooklyn home to Upstate, the land of the "cornheads," as he refers to the locals. Harboring secret suicidal thoughts and 'practicing' for that final exit, Petey is torn, because he loves his ex-police officer dad deeply and doesn't want to leave him alone. Plagued with all the usual hormonal problems of the average eighth-grader, Petey misses his mom and has trouble fitting in, mostly because he's sensitive and just a hell of a lot smarter than most of his cornhead classmates, who rank armpit farts and deer hunting as cultural activities. He finds solace in the office of the school guidance counselor, Miz (Lizzie) Bean (yes, the same one who played a major role in Busch's earlier novel, ROUNDS). Petey's dad, referred to only as "Pop" throughout the narrative, also notices Miz Bean and things begin to get better for Petey.

Equal parts Holden Caulfield and Scout (yeah, I know Scout was a girl, but the comparison actually works, especially since Petey admires and loves Pop as much as Scout did Atticus), Petey grows up a lot. Perhaps one of the most surprising elements of the story comes in a small cell of local cornhead KKK, which adds a sinister overtone and some pretty ugly characters to the mix. And the final 20-30 pages are as riveting as any you will find in modern fiction.

What didn't I like about this Busch book? Nothing, except maybe the fact that it was the last one in my library. Fortunately there are still probably a dozen I haven't yet read. Time to start looking for those books. And hey, if you love good writing and you haven't read Fred Busch, time for YOU to start looking too. You won't be sorry; I promise.
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