Andre Dubus III, author of the National Book Award-nominated House of Sand and Fog and The Garden of Last Days, reflects on his violent past and a lifestyle that threatened to destroy him -- until he was saved by writing.
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 -- or to beatings-for-pay 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.
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2011: Rarely has the process of becoming a writer seemed as organic and--dare I say it--moral as it does in Andre Dubus III's clear-eyed and compassionate memoir, Townie. You might think that following his father's trade would have been natural and even obvious for the son and namesake of Andre Dubus, one of the most admired short story writers of his time, but it was anything but. His father left when he was 10, and as his mother worked long hours to keep them fed, her four children mostly raised themselves, stumbling through house parties and street fights in their Massachusetts mill town, so cut off from the larger world that when someone mentioned "Manhattan" when Andre was in college he didn't know what they were talking about. What he did know, and what he recalls with detailed intensity, were the battles in bars and front yards, brutal to men and women alike, that first gave him discipline, as he built himself from a fearful kid into a first-punch, hair-trigger bruiser, and then empathy, as, miraculously, he pulled himself back from the violence that threatened to define him. And it was out of that empathy that, wanting to understand the stories of the victims of brutality as well as those whose pain drove them to dish it out, he began to write, reconciling with his father and eventually giving us novels like House of Sand and Fog and now this powerful and big-hearted memoir. --Tom NissleyAbout the Author:
ANDRE DUBUS III is the author of a collection of short fiction, The Cage Keeper and Other Stories, and the novels Bluesman, House of Sand and Fog, and The Garden of Last Days. His work has been included in The Best American Essays of 1994, The Best Spiritual Writing of 1999, and The Best of Hope Magazine. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Magazine Award for fiction, the Pushcart Prize, and was a finalist for the Rome Prize Fellowship from the Academy of Arts and Letters. An Academy Award-nominated motion picture and published in seventeen languages, House of Sand and Fog was a fiction finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Booksense Book of the Year, an Oprah Book Club selection, and a #1 New York Times bestseller. A member of PEN American Center, Dubus has served as a panelist for the National Book Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and has taught writing at Harvard University, Tufts University, and Emerson College. He is currently a full-time faculty member at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. He is married to the performer Fontaine Dollas Dubus. They live in Massachusetts with their three children.
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