After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their exhausted working mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and crime. To protect himself and those he loved from street violence, Andre learned to use his fists so well that he was even scared of himself. He was on a fast track to getting killed - or killing someone else. He signed on as a boxer.
Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash of worlds couldn't have been more stark - or more difficult for a son to communicate to a father. Only by becoming a writer himself could Andre begin to bridge the abyss and save himself. His memoir is a riveting, visceral, profound meditation on physical violence and the failures and triumphs of love.
What's notable about this memoir of a troubled boy's youth and coming of age is that one might expect a harshness in the voice of someone brought up in such brutal violence, and yet, there's an elegance and restraint throughout, even in moments of searing honesty. (Reviewed by Julie Wan).
The New York Times Book Review - Darcey Steinke
[P]owerful… As this fine memoir closes, Dubus is concerned with a fundamental question: Can he care for a father who did not really take care of him? To the book's credit (and the author's), he does not lean on easy redemption.
The New York Times - Dwight Garner Townie is a better, harder book than anything the younger Mr. Dubus has yet written; it pays off on every bet that's been placed on him... Mr. Dubus's prose is clear, supple, unshowy. He gets a lot across with a few words.
Salon - Laura Miller
This is a memoir both disconcertingly naked and immensely careful; Dubus refrains from bitterness the way a Buddhist monk renounces worldly possessions... It's tempting to get angry on the author's behalf, but Townie patiently teaches its readers that rage is self-poisoning.
Starred Review. So chiseled are his dramatic memories, his shocking yet redemptive memoir of self-transformation feels like testimony under oath as well as hard-hammered therapy, coalescing, ultimately, in a generous, penetrating, and cathartic dissection of misery and fury, creativity and forgiveness, responsibility and compassion.
Starred Review. A striking, eloquent account of growing up poor and of the making of a writer.
Starred Review. In this gritty and gripping memoir, Dubus bares his soul in stunning and page-turning prose.
One of the most balanced, reflective, thoughtful books I've read to date.
Andre Dubus was born in 1936 in Louisiana to a Catholic family; he studied journalism and English at McNeese State College; then spent six years in the Marine Corps, during which time he married his first wife and had his first four children, including Andre Dubus III. After leaving the Marines he studied at the Iowa Writer's Workshop. As an ex-Marine turned writer, Dubus (pronounced duh-BYOOSE) had a tough exterior and a tender heart - something he became known for in his work, which often deals with pain, tragedy, violence, and flawed characters with astonishing compassion and kindness. He wrote a few novellas and one novel, Lieutenant (1967), but was mostly devoted to the short story, a form in which he is considered one of the masters. As a devout Catholic throughout his life, his faith sometimes appeared explicitly in his writing and other times informed his work through themes of redemption and grace.
The Pulitzer Prizewinning author of All Over but the Shoutin continues his personal history of the Deep South with an evocation of his mothers childhood in the Appalachian foothills during the Great Depression, and the magnificent story of the man who raised her.
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