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HAS IT BEEN A CHALLENGE FOR YOU TO ACT IN TELEVISION AND FILM AS A SOLDIER AFTER SERVING AS A MARINE? Yes, it really has. When things are dangerous, you behave in a certain way. You gain a certain efficiency, a brevity to language and speed in which you respond. But there was nothing at stake when I was acting in Generation Kill or other films where I played a soldier. So I had to pretend all those thing in a way that felt "put on." It didn't feel natural and it was the least comfortable I've ever been as an actor, playing the thing I knew the most.

ONE OF THE BOOK'S MAJOR THEMES SEEMS TO BE COMING TO GRIPS WITH MORTALITY. BUT YOU ALSO STRESS THE PERMANENCE OF MEMORY. This is a book about struggling with universal truths: that we are all temporary in this world. Writing this book allowed me to return deep into my childhood. I walked through my childhood home, through the same woods and rivers. I talked with my parents. And what I've realized is that I have given them an afterlife with this book. And I believe every one of us can do the same things, if we take time to remember.

YOU RECALL IN DUST TO DUST THAT YOUR FIRST WORDS AS A CHILD WERE, "I AM AWAKE." DO YOU THINK PEOPLE NEED TO BE MORE AWARE AND IN THE MOMENT? Definitely. You can either participate in your life or not. We seem to be hurrying through our lives and I'm not sure what the point of that hurry is. It seems everyone is rushing toward retirement, and then they find themselves older and they've missed everything. And if people are hurrying toward the end, then that's what they'll get. ^

BENJAMIN BUSCH READS AT HARVARD BOOK STORE ON APRIL 17

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