But first read a bit about the book.
Set in London, beginning in the early sixties and spanning five decades, I Shot Bruce follows Vijay Asunder, a rock-and-roll wannabe who, many decades after he is spurned by the manager of a singing group that eventually becomes world-famous, finally decides that he must kill the one person that symbolizes the success that has eluded him, his replacement. During a fifty-year span of time, Asunder follows the fortunes of the band and its various members as he pursues the alternate and ever-so-quiet, but not-very-satisfying life he’s made for himself as an antique dealer. Yet with each passing year, and with each reminder of “what might have been”, his obsession for revenge grows, until finally he must act.
Conceived loosely on the untimely dismissal and subsequent life of Pete Best, the so-called ‘fifth Beatle’, Asunder’s perspective and his ultimate commitment to retribution differs markedly from Ringo Starr’s predecessor. Intelligent and intense, I Shot Bruce chronicles and dramatizes obsession to the point of self-destruction.
Please give Brett a warm welcome.
When I Shot Bruce, my “angry, British” novel, was accepted by Open Books/Escape Media, I was under the impression that publishers sold your books, scheduled appearances, and sent you a check, on a quarterly basis, every year it remained in print, and, possibly beyond it. What I confronted was a completely different playing-field, if you will, and have been trying to adjust to its peculiarly fuzzy boundaries ever since. That would explain why it’s taken so long for me to conceive of, and participate in, forms of promotional activism I had once thought happened by themselves, or by means of an organic chemistry whereby mushrooms spring fully-formed (and fascinatingly dangerous) overnight. (I hope I can become a smart mushroom-grower.) Until recently, however, I’d been hoping that bookstores would yield to ISB’s charms (I was wrong), The Washington Post (et al) would usher me into a world of perks and comforts I have not heretofore experienced (ha!), and that all of my appearances in bookstores and area stages would be – to channel another delusional thinker – packed.
At this point, appearances at bookstores (et al) have been so scant, that, like the Broadway production that closes out of town, each glittering moment is etched so indelibly that only a bump on the head – or one of those old-age afflictions that start with forgotten surnames – could expunge them. I could say that, having weathered a full year on a battlefront with few visible landmines, I’m in a shell-shocked condition that dare not speak its name. What would you call time spent restlessly, but without a master plan or marching orders? If good causes come out of a few random words, I’ve wasted thousands. What could I have been thinking about a project that shot from the hip and seemed to spin around, as if it lacked motor coordination, completely on its own? If effective human beings are said to have “agency”, I am an exemplar of whatever agency is not. Yet I have soldiered on and have had some interesting moments.
In Richmond, I read to an audience of three people – all good friends – who seemed to think that there was nothing unusual in having been skunked by everybody else. The most stalwart of these thought that having a warmly discriminating audience was a victory unto itself. Could quality be measured by numbers? (Sometimes.) Did it matter that I would sell books only to friends? (Without a living mother, these would have to suffice.) And who’s to judge whether James Patterson, with his gravity-defying success, is, in terms of what he has produced, superior to me? (*It would be delusional to think otherwise.)
Having gotten so many things wrong, I have begun to assume that I was never right about much of anything else and. . .I was right. And I am starting over with a head that is no longer reeling and expectations that comport with where I am in the world.
I’ve signed a contract for another book, which will come out in June. With all of this hard and hapless experience under my belt, I feel that, if I can implement alternative strategies such as The Unconventional Venue Phenomenon, I can snatch an honorable victory from defeatist jaws that have, thus far, eaten me alive. I believe that, with the perspective I have, by means of hustle and headache, acquired, I am likely to prevail as respectably as the model under which I operate – for which nothing less than full participation is acceptable – will allow.
If I don’t, I’ll have an existentially amusing outcome to jog my waning faculties. I Shot Bruce’s narrator is so compulsively wrong-headed that his life might be seen as a model of anti-perfection. If, in promoting him, I fail as abysmally as he did in my book, perhaps the poetic justice for which we yearn in fiction a little more than we do in real life, will be served. I would rather have him celebrated by a readership that may not hope for a sequel, but, if he is to be scorned in life as much as he was left to rot on the page, I think I can fall in with that. In a world of unsatisfactory outcomes, there is a double indemnity here. The book will sleep, as its narrator has, in infamy. And when, in the year 2054, it is rediscovered by a pimply-faced young man who surfs the internet – as people will do at that time – by Long-Distance Imaging, I Shot Bruce may finally have its day. Life is short, art long, and it’s best to hope as selectively as you can.
*One could say that books come alive as they are written. I would suggest that, in publishing, a second life is not only desirable, it’s absolutely necessary. If you publish, you’ve got to publicize. And Patterson has done it – or has had it done for him – quite resoundingly.
Thanks, Brett, for sharing this story with us.
About the Author/Artist:
Brett Busang is a prominent and respected American realist. He has exhibited at such institutions as the Museum of the City of New York City; the Everson Museum, in Syracuse, NY; the Greenville Museum of Art, in Greenville, NC. His paintings have been avidly collected by corporations (Capital One, Krispy Kreme, Media General, Wheat First Union, among others) as well as private individuals around the country. An heir to such uncompromising voices as Edward Hopper and Charles Burchfield, Mr. Busang interprets “his own backyard” with a combination of personal lyricism and rigorous objectivity. His writing has appeared in American Artist, The Artist’s Magazine, American Art Review, the New York Press and New York Newsday. He also contributes regularly to a blog at www.webartsites.com. To view his art, visit his website.
Brett Busang describes himself as a prolific essayist, a moderately interesting playwright, a lapsed painter, an ambivalent anglophile and a failed ballplayer. Brett Busang was born in Memphis, Tennessee and now lives in Washington, DC. His latest book, Laughter and Early Sorrow (and Other Stories), is forthcoming from Open Books/Escape Media.