Fiction Andre Dubus Broken Vessels

ISBN 13: 9780879239480

Broken Vessels

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9780879239480: Broken Vessels

Written between 1977 and 1990, universally acclaimed when they appeared in Godine hardcover, and exploring subjects close to home and close to the bone, these twenty-two diverse essays reveal the spiritual strength and shrewdly lyrical prose for which Andre Dubus has been recognized worldwide.

Personal but never indulgent, sensitive but never maudlin, these forays into Dubus's past and present conjure up small worlds: a Catholic boyhood in Cajun Louisiana, the transcendental quality of baseball, the luck and slipperiness of life, the precarious business of making a living by writing. These worlds are presented in a voice that is as powerful as it is poignant, that never flinches from the stark realities that have so colored Dubus's recent past and personal life. Especially moving are his descriptions of his children, his wrenching account of the 1986 automobile accident that cost him his leg, and of the ensuing struggle for his spiritual and physical survival.

Broken Vessels is a book that, in its scope and sympathy, its grace and courage, never fails to startle with the sudden impact of quiet truths, passionately felt and powerfully expressed.

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Review:

Broken Vessels, Andre Dubus's first collection of essays, was written between 1977 and 1990. During this period, Dubus hit his peak as an essayist, survived an accident that almost destroyed his will to write, and went on to regain and exceed his earlier power as a writer. Reading this book is almost as rich an experience as meeting a fascinating person: you'll learn the best way to scramble eggs, why baseball is a transcendental experience, the risks and rewards of idealistic poverty, and what it's like to see ghosts. Dubus writes as a Catholic, and most of his essays speak explicitly of the sacramental nature of his everyday experiences. Particularly effective are the essays describing Dubus's struggle to recover from a traffic accident that occurred after he stopped to help stranded motorists on a roadside in 1986. "Lights of the Long Night" is among the best of these, containing the kind of writing that makes you close the book immediately, knowing you've seen so deeply into a person's soul that you have to sit with what you've learned and wait for some sense of how to respond before you're entitled to keep turning the pages. --Michael Joseph Gross

From Kirkus Reviews:

In his first volume of nonfiction, short-story writer Dubus (The Last Worthless Thing, 1986, etc.) reveals the passions, struggles, and strengths underlying his art, life, and arduous recovery from personal tragedy. Sparing few of life's messy details and contradictions, these 22 deeply personal essays, dating from 1977 to 1990 and strongly reminiscent of the author's fictional themes, offer an unflinching view of one man's search for truth. In ``Of Robin Hood and Womanhood,'' a childhood tendency toward ``angelic devotion to the female'' yields slowly to an effort ``to see women as they are...creatures like me.'' ``On Charon's Wharf'' connects the mysteries of the Eucharist--``without touch, God is a monologue...he must touch and be touched''--to the dissolution of a marriage once words suffocate action. Here are the joys of writing and the frustrations of publishing (in five essays that move from childhood storytelling to a tribute to writer Richard Yates); the search for social justice (``The Judge and Other Snakes''); the pleasures and responsibilities of fatherhood (throughout). Here also are moments of shimmering lyricism, as in ``Under the Lights,'' when a rare home-run ball hit by a Class C journeyman appears as ``a bright and vanishing sphere of human possibility, soaring into the darkness beyond our vision.'' The last third of the book, a wrenching chronicle of loss and reaffirmation, deals with the highway accident that cost Dubus the use of his legs, the subsequent breakup of his third marriage, and the ensuing battle for physical and spiritual peace. We are left with a view of life as an overlapping sequence of stories, answering a ``need to speak into the silence of mortality,'' informed by the quest for connection, the ``sacrament'' of ``shared ritual'' so ably served by this collection. A beautifully written, moving, and altogether wonderful book. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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