For Andre Dubus, "the quotidian and the spiritual don't exist
on different planes, but infuse each other. His is an unapologetically sacramental vision
of life in which ordinary things participate in the miraculous, the miraculous in ordinary
things. He believes in God, and talks to Him, and doesn't mince words. He believes in
ghosts . . . He is open to mystery, and of all mysteries the one that interests him most
is the human potential for transcendence."
So wrote Tobias Wolff seven years ago, about Andre Dubus's Broken Vessels, and that insight describes perfectly the twenty-five pieces in this powerfully moving new collection, a continuation of Dubus's candid, intensely personal exploration into matters of morality, religion, and creativity. Since that first book of essays, written after the 1986 accident that cost him his leg and, for a time, the ability to write, Mr. Dubus has published Dancing After Hours, a unanimously heralded book of stories "at once harrowing and exhilarating" (Time).
Here is Dubus on the rape of his beloved sister, his first real job, a gay naval officer, Hemingway, the blessing of his first marriage, his dear friend Richard Yates, his own crippling, lost autumnal pleasures, having sons and grandsons, his first books, meeting a woman who witnessed his accident, the Catholic church, and, of course, his faith.
That hot June in Lafayette, Louisiana, I was sixteen, I would be seventeen in August, I
weighed one hundred and five pounds, and my ruddy, broad-chested father wanted me to have
a summer job. I only wanted the dollar allowance he gave me each week, and the dollar and
a quarter I earned caddying for him on weekends and Wednesday afternoons. With a quarter I
could go to a movie, or buy a bottle of beer, or a pack of cigarettes to smoke secretly. I
did not have a girlfriend, so I did not have to buy drinks or food or movie tickets for
anyone else. I did not want to work. I wanted to drive around with my friends, or walk
with them downtown, to stand in front of the department store, comb our ducktails, talk,
look at girls.
My father was a civil engineer, and the district manager for the Gulf States Utilities Company. He had been working for them since he left college, beginning as a surveyor,...
If you liked Meditations From A Movable Chair, try these:
In this heartbreakingly beautiful book of disillusioned intimacy and persistent yearning, beloved and celebrated author Andre Dubus III explores the bottomless needs and stubborn weaknesses of people seeking gratification in food and sex, work and love.
Reminds us that life is not to be taken for granted but to be lived fully with zeal, curiosity, and gratitude. That is a powerful message in itself, but it is the messenger who gives it its full resonance.
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