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.
In these linked novellas in which characters walk out the back door of one story and into the next, love is "dirty" - tangled up with need, power, boredom, ego, fear, and fantasy. On the Massachusetts coast north of Boston, a controlling manager, Mark, discovers his wife's infidelity after twenty-five years of marriage. An overweight young woman, Marla, gains a romantic partner but loses her innocence. A philandering bartender/aspiring poet, Robert, betrays his pregnant wife. And in the stunning title novella, a teenage girl named Devon, fleeing a dirty image of her posted online, seeks respect in the eyes of her widowed great-uncle Francis and of an Iraq vet she's met surfing the Web.
Slivered by happiness and discontent, aging and death, but also persistent hope and forgiveness, these beautifully wrought narratives express extraordinary tenderness toward human beings, our vulnerable hearts and bodies, our fulfilling and unfulfilling lives alone and with others.
From the title story Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III
She'd done it herself without asking her mother for any help. She'd felt grown-up and a little scared but strong and ready for whatever would come next. But this magazine of her father's made her feel young and stupid, ugly even, and Devon closed it and put it back on the stack. And was it later in the kitchen, dipping the eggplant slices into the milk and raw egg, then the bread crumbs, that she began to wonder about her mother? Her heavy, beautiful mother who smiled at everyone and treated them as if they were special and deserved kindness just because they were alive? Was it then, the first time Devon had helped her to bake eggplant parmigiana, that she began to feel sorry for her own mother?
"Sixteen minutes, Devy," Uncle Francis calls this out from the living room. Devon stares down at the notebook. She reads what she's written, ending with my first tampon. She crosses out the small t and makes it a ...
In Dirty Love Dubus creates real human beings like us, who often do really stupid things that undermine their greatest hopes and deepest loves, but who keep moving forward with that hope beyond hope, willing to risk again, to reach out again, to love again, to accept life on its own terms, trusting, on the most primal level, that their lives have meaning and truth deeply embedded within them.
(Reviewed by Bob Sauerbrey).
Full Review (893 words).
Talent seems to flow through families. Bach's sons became important composers in their own right, and one, Johann Christian, was considered by Mozart to be one of his musical fathers. Twice Nobel laureate Marie Curie was the mother of Irene Joliot-Curie, who herself won the Nobel in chemistry in 1935. Philosopher and novelist Mary Wollstonecraft, author of the then revolutionary A Vindication of the Rights of Woman was mother to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley who explored the nature of humanity in her still popular Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. Some children have carried on what their parents had established: Jeff Shaara has skillfully continued what his father Michael began in the Civil War historical novel, Killer Angels, and ...
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