May 31, 2015


Andre Dubus III – Townie: A Memoir


Let's get this out the way at the start, yes, he is the son of the esteemed short story writer Andre Dubus II, a fact that is really quite difficult to get out of the way, as his father’s presence looms over the shoulder of the young man growing up and later, becoming a writer himself. I had a collection of Dubus senior, long before I knew of son and possibly that is what made the reading of this memoir so intriguing. Because if we are thinking: What is this about, then this long and troubled, difficult and very funny memoir concerns the relationship of a son to his complicated, larger-than-life, mostly absent, famous, father. Who is also a writer. And here we are holding the memoir of his son whom we know because we have the book in our hands, is also a writer. And yet, for almost two thirds of this memoir, there is no indication that the son will ever be a writer. He is damaged and angry, preoccupied with making sure that he overcomes his fear and inferiority of being small by building his body, pumping his muscles and becoming a smart and ruthless fighter. I listened to the Audible version, and Andre Dubus tells his own story with power and conviction. I loved the weaving of the narration, telling his own story, the story of his relationship with his father and finally how writing becomes a kind of redemption for him. It sent me back to read the stories of Dubus senior with new appreciation too. If you like Bukowski or Fante, this is definitely a book to read.

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