Thursday, March 31, 2011

Recommended Reading: Townie Andre Dubus III

Townie, the recently released memoir by Andre Dubus III is a must read if you fit any of the following (and a damn good read even if you don't):
  • You are a fan of either Andre Dubus III or of his father, famed short story and novella writer Andre Dubus.  Townie forces you to see both men in a new light and a new context.  Personally, I've long struggled separating my literary heroes as I imagine them via reading their work from the living people they were/are.  I've met a few; the page and the skin don't always match up.  This memoir is a good reminder of that danger and a reminder of the frailty of all humans.  I've long been guilty of nearly worshipping Andre Dubus's stories.  It is good to remember he was a man, but my god those stories.  And a good reminder that his son has written  work every bit as compelling for our time as his father did for his.
  • If you grew up in the 70s.  I have seldom read work that better conveys a 70s childhood--that time that was scary for many of his simply because the world had gone a bit quiet after Vietnam and the tumult of the 60's and we turned inward more than we should have, turned away from the shame of a war we should not have fought, a failed presidency, an uncertain but foreboding Cold War--turned instead within the very real and very sad daily life of dying towns and dying industries and a widening gap between rich and poor.
  • You were a boy who were bullied or bullied others.  You would be hard pressed to find a book more capable of focusing on the everyday violence that rises out of this culture or one better at presenting a man who learns to curb his own desire to find power (and to right wrongs) with his fists.
Townie is a book that will stay with you.  Even if you feel you have no connection to the 70s, to either Dubus, to hardscrabble New England towns filled with thugs and drunks and complacent acceptance of failure, the book can touch you and make you think about the culture we have created and our propensity for violence (and maybe its opposite).

1 comment:

  1. The man is a master of words. This book is almost brutal in some places, and the brutality isn't in the violence, but in the knowledge that childhood can be so cruel. Anyone with a past, especially a tumultuous one, will find a piece of their own story in this book. Just beautiful.
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