Selected Stories (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – 30 Jul 1975
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From the Inside Flap
These twenty-three stories represent the best work of one of the finest and most emotionally revealing writers in America. Andre Dubus treats his characters--a bereaved father stalking his son's killer; a woman crying alone by her television late at night; a devout teenager writing in the coils of faith and sexuality; a father's story of limitless love for his daughter--with respect and compassion. He turns fiction into an act of witness. Books by Andre Dubus also in Vintage Contemporaries paperback: Dancing After Hours.
"Like some of the most satisfying storytellers of the past (Dubus has been compared to Chekhov), he is munificent, spinning out whole lifetimes and recounting events from many characters' viewpoints. For the lyricism and directness of his language, the richness and precision of his observations and the generosity of his vision, he is among the best."--Village Voice
"Dubus's characters resemble those of Raymond Carver...but the stories stand alone in their idiosyncratic spiritual cast, occasionally religious, more often expressive of devotion to the people he lives among."--New York Times Book Review
About the Author
The author of nine works of fiction, Andre Dubus received the PEN/Malamud Award, the Rea Award for excellence in short fiction, the Jean Stein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Boston Globe's first annual Lawrence L. Winship Award, and fellowships from both the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations. Until his death in 1999, he lived in Haverhill, Massachusetts."
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He is a character writer, so don't expect bombastic plot lines or clear-cut resolutions. Instead we are treated to staid slices-of-life, usually spanning only a few days. Standouts include the seminal "Killings" which was turned into an excellent film by Todd Field entitled "In The Bedroom". The story concerns a father's hunt for his son's killer. It's all surprisingly easy, but it leaves a mark on the father's soul. Similarly, in the story "Rose", we meet a character through the foil of an unnamed narrator who frequents, like many of Dubus' denizens, Timmy's bar, a ramshackle but friendly establishment. Rose has been wronged by her ex-husband and the grim details of their final night together gave me chills, purely from an entertainment standpoint. When the smoke settles however, you realize how scarred Rose was by her ordeal- mentally as well as physically. I really felt her pain.
Of course there are some humorous, touching stories laced between the stories of battered women and murder. "If You Knew Yvonne" is about a boy's struggle with "self-abuse" conflicting with his faith (Dubus was a very devout man), culminating in his use of a young lady to fulfill his desires to point that she remarks, "It's all we ever do, Harry, it's all we ever do..." In context, this is a deeply heartbreaking line. I could really identify. We've all had relationships where we used people and then moved on, only to regret it later.
There are some throwaway pieces such as the first story and some stories about soldiers that didn't interest me, but overall this is a really poignant and well-styled collection, minimum yet multi-layered, dark yet enduring. Dubus' character sketches mesh with the hurting world and draw to life a hope in humanity.
I've read other things by same person and they seemed better. And brighter!
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