Tag Archives: St. Louis

The Physical Art of Rebecca Busselle… plus a side order of bread

The latest video from Rebecca Busselle will make you hungry for bread. Click here and now to view and listen to Becky’s story “For the Love of Bread.” Then read on to learn more about Becky. She’s one of our James family’s most accomplished authors.

When I first met Becky, she gave me this description of her girlhood years in St. Louis.

“I grew up in the Central West End. Summers we cooled down with fans blown over bowls of ice, or went to Pevely Dairy where the colored lights took your mind off the heat. Learned to ice skate at the Winter Garden.  Took the street car to Glazers Drugs in Clayton.”

Then came this surprising gem… “Lived spitting distance from the DeBallivier strip, where I managed to sneak in to see Evelyn West, the biggest and the best, with her $50,000 treasure chest, insured by Lloyds of London. Sorry to hear she’s gone but amazed she made it so long. RIP.”

You’d think a young girl who could appreciate a famous, voluptuous stripper might not accomplish much of significance in her future. But Becky is a James family descendant. We expect her to confound expectations.

When Becky’s book An Exposure of the Heart was published in 1989, the New York Times review stated, “Five minutes after I began reading this book, I wanted to slam it shut and hide it away in the deepest recesses of my desk. ‘An Exposure of the Heart’ is a beautifully written, profoundly disturbing account of Rebecca Busselle’s year as a photographer and observer at a New York State institution for the retarded – society’s most invisible people.” The reviewer concludes, “Rebecca Busselle forces us to ask why society takes so little interest in the lives of those it preserves from physical death.”

 

Physicality is at the core of another of Becky’s books. Her novel Bathing Ugly centers on thirteen year old Betsy Sherman. Attending Camp Sunny Days, operated by a faded beauty queen who can impel casual cruelty upon girls lacking in physical beauty, overweight Betsy spends ten desperate weeks trying to avoid winning the Bathing Ugly contest, the camp’s counterpart to a Bathing Beauty contest. Betsy’s summer ends with flair and vengeance, but not in the way you might think.

 

 

Self-destruction dogs Becky’s next heroine Neela in A Frog’s- Eye View. Haunted by her parent’s alcoholism, Neela is convinced her boyfriend Nick is about to break up with her. She stalks him with the flair and obsession of Fatal Attraction. She is caught in an adolescent love that is half nightmare, half farce.

 

 

 

In Becky’s latest book, Paul Strand, Southwest, Becky introduces many new photographs of the famed protégé of Alfred Stieglitz during his Taos period, when Strand’s relationship with his mentor was disintegrating as fast as his relationship with his wife, Rebecca Salsbury.  Strand’s images of landscapes are dramatic, the ghost towns decayed, the architecture noble, and the images of his wife Rebecca austere. Later, Rebecca Salsbury married William H. James, who is not known to be related to Becky’s James family.

Rebecca is married to Sam Busselle. They both served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Sierra Leone from 1972 to 1975. They now make their home outside New York City.

PEDIGREE

Rebecca Starkloff-Busselle

. Elizabeth Egan & Gene B. Starkloff

.. Fannie James & Louis Henry Egan

… John Crawford James & Fannie Shouse

…. Thomas Martin James & Susan Ann Woodward

….. John M. James & Mary “Polly” Poor

…. Robert Sallee James & Zerleda Elizabeth Cole

… Frank & Jesse James