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Selected Stories of Andre Dubus

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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--wi 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


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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--wi 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

30 review for Selected Stories of Andre Dubus

  1. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    Andre Dubus 1936-1999, Storyteller par exellence Many of us involved with books – reading books, writing books, reviewing books - are well aware fiction writing is a unique calling. Therefore, it is something special when both father and son are accomplished authors. Kingsley Amis and son Martin come immediately to mind as do John Updike and son David; actually, we might think of another father-son fiction writing duo: Andre Dubus and son Andre Dubus 111, author of House of Sand and Fog. This coll Andre Dubus 1936-1999, Storyteller par exellence Many of us involved with books – reading books, writing books, reviewing books - are well aware fiction writing is a unique calling. Therefore, it is something special when both father and son are accomplished authors. Kingsley Amis and son Martin come immediately to mind as do John Updike and son David; actually, we might think of another father-son fiction writing duo: Andre Dubus and son Andre Dubus 111, author of House of Sand and Fog. This collection of stories by Andre Senior that's part of the 1980s Vintage Contemporaries series is really a treasure since it would be hard to find someone more a born storyteller. Remarkable. Twenty-three slice-of-life stories, some brief, some long, ranging from five pages to fifty pages that flow and flow and flow. We find a story about a catcher from the Dominican Republic who has a psychic breakdown in the locker room after a ballgame; a fight between husband and wife seen through the eyes of their teenage son; a young Puerto Rican wife reliving her husband being shot dead on a hill in Korea; a husband apologizing to his wife over breakfast after giving her a black eye the previous night when he was drunk - rawboned stories of the wounded heart, stories reminding me at times of Raymond Carver and at other times of Anton Chekhov. Here’s my synopsis of two particularly gripping tales from the collection: THEY NOW LIFE IN TEXAS A woman is too intoxicated to drive back to her rural Texas home at night in the snow so she leaves the driving to her husband who is also intoxicated but not enough that he can’t hunch over the steering wheel and slowly guide their car back up the hill to their front door. During the drive, in the darkness, snow piled high on either side of the road, she lets her husband know that adult son Stephen told her about his religious experience. Still hunched over the steering wheel, not taking his eyes off the road, her husband notes the religious experience must have worked since he knocked off the booze and started going to AA. Once in their driveway, she asks her husband to please drive the sitter home, which he does. Alone, she walks down the hall to check on her four-year-old daughter who is sleeping amongst her stuffed bears and then moves to the room of her older daughter, a six-years-old, and observes how she is also asleep, snuggled up with her three beloved stuffed animals. The woman sits in the kitchen drinking tea when her husband returns and asks her how she’s doing and, half asleep, shuffles off to bed. Alone again, she walks to the living room and reflects on the movies her husband brought home for her to watch: “Man of Flowers,” which she thought beautiful and “Lucia di Lammermoor,” a movie she found both splendid and sad. The one she did not watch is a horror film. She loads the horror film in the player and settles in after fixing herself more tea. The film is about a divorced woman living in Southern California with her fourteen-year-old daughter, twelve-year-old son and another daughter, age nine. Some unknown presence, something like a poltergeist, attacks the woman at night, a presence she feels as a sinister force. The unknown force increases, causing violence to not only the mother but also her three children. The woman sips her tea and reflects on the past conversation she had with her adult son Stephen, how he told her that he heard a voice when driving his car, how he then felt a loving presence enter him and how he surrendered to this presence which gave him the strength to quit drinking. Watching the mother in the movie start to cry, the woman also starts crying. When we learn on the last page the movie is based on true events, we realize the woman in the horror film and the woman in our story might, in fact, be one and the same person. THE CURSE Mitchell Hayes stands at the cash register at the bar and reflects on how he is forty-nine years old and now knows what it means to be an old man. He is brooding because he helplessly looked on the previous night when a gang of thugs hopped up on coke raped an attractive blonde young lady in a bathing suit who happened to stroll into the bar to get cigarettes from the cigarette machine. The gang raped her right there on the floor of the bar, right before his very eyes and he couldn’t do a thing about it; and if he tried, he would have been beaten senseless. After the gang left Mitchell uses the phone to call 911. When the police arrive, including Smiitty, a guy he knew since they both went to the same high school in this small town, Mitchell tells him he could have stopped the rape. Smitty, in turn, tells Mitchell it is a good thing he didn’t try or he would be in the hospital right now. Mitchell goes home and tells his wife, a nurse, what happened at the bar. She rubs his shoulders and back, sensing just how shaken he is by the experience. The next morning Mitchell also tells his teenage son Marty and teenage daughter Joyce, how the girl was crying and taken to the hospital and all the gang members are now in jail. The next night Mitchell returns to the bar and watches the faces of all the men and women, watches to see if any of them look at him as if to say that he was a coward or didn’t care enough for the girl to do something to stop the rape. No. Nobody says anything or is looking at him in that way. Mitchell peers down at the floor, at the spot where the girl was raped. He feels old and tired. Mitchell now thinks back at how the girl was lying there after the gang left, how she was crying, how he wanted to at least hold her hand but he didn’t. Most of all, Mitchell thinks back at what the girl said to him, words he took as a curse, a curse he now feels moving into his back and spreading down his spine and into his stomach and legs and arms and shoulders, a curse we know as readers he will be hearing every day for the remainder of his life.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    Andre Dubus is my favorite American short story writer. In fact, he is one of my few favorite American writers period. He has the realism of Cheever and Carver, but more warmth than Carver and Hemingway. His prose is understated and never unnecessary; he is one of the few writers I have read where every word in every sentence, and every sentence is not only necessary, but meaningful as well (Tom Robbins and Virginia Woolf are others). He is worth reading for his prose alone. Many, if not most, o Andre Dubus is my favorite American short story writer. In fact, he is one of my few favorite American writers period. He has the realism of Cheever and Carver, but more warmth than Carver and Hemingway. His prose is understated and never unnecessary; he is one of the few writers I have read where every word in every sentence, and every sentence is not only necessary, but meaningful as well (Tom Robbins and Virginia Woolf are others). He is worth reading for his prose alone. Many, if not most, of his stories take place in the New England area, and as such allow for an interesting portrait of that area. I used to want to live in Maine, before I wanted to live in Savannah, GA, so I have some interest in the area itself. Dubus was apparently born in Louisiana, but spent his later years in Haverhill, Massachusettes. The characters are humanely and fully realized, as if they could be someone you pass on the street. The stories seem like briefly opened windows into the characters' lives. As I said above, Dubus has the realism of Carver and Hemingway, but his prose and his treatment of his characters is much warmer than Hemingway's sparse dialogue or Carver's post-modern coldness. The characters do struggle with how to connect to one another, but it doesn't feel cold, cut off or lifeless; it doesn't feel bleak (even though some of the subject matter certainly is). I don't need warm fuzzies to make me a happy reader, and Dubus offers few of these, but I do need a certain level of humanity to be present in what I read. And it's this, the variety of humanity, that Dubus offers us.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Moira Russell

    Probably the last time I read this book straight through was sometime early in the last decade; I bought his kid's memoir on Kindle, and then saw the Selected Stories on sale and snapped them up. The best of Dubus on my ereader: how could I resist? "Rose" remains as much of a heartstopper as when I first read it, in....God could it have been 1987? 1986? I think so, my copy of The Last Worthless Evening dates to then. My dad read me "A Father's Story" at around the same time, an amazing experience Probably the last time I read this book straight through was sometime early in the last decade; I bought his kid's memoir on Kindle, and then saw the Selected Stories on sale and snapped them up. The best of Dubus on my ereader: how could I resist? "Rose" remains as much of a heartstopper as when I first read it, in....God could it have been 1987? 1986? I think so, my copy of The Last Worthless Evening dates to then. My dad read me "A Father's Story" at around the same time, an amazing experience for both of us (my dad would read me stories by Flannery O'Connor, Ring Lardner, Eudora Welty, and then we'd talk about them....). I am still amazed "Molly" is not in his Selected, it's probably my favourite story he ever wrote. And Dubus's portrayal of women remains amazing in stories like "The Fat Girl," "The Pretty Girl," "Voices from the Moon," and even slight efforts like "Leslie in California" and "They Now Live in Texas." Dubus's natural length was obviously the novella; his sentences are long and elegant, circling around an idea or theme before beginning to develop it. And yet his characters work at places like Sunnycorner and Timmy's bar, drink Miller and Bud, go fishing and shooting. A surprising number of them are soldiers; Dubus served six years in the Marines, and there's that constant sense of being shoved up against and forced to understand people radically different from you which comes from institutionalism. His son would later experience the same kind of thing, and write about it too, working with addicts and prisoners. Dubus doesn't so much plot his stories as send his characters into dire situations to record the results: a wife is raped by her husband, a father tries to avenge his son's killing, a daughter grows up with her permissive mother and absent father, a boy's father marries his older brother's ex-wife. What you remember are the extraordinary people, with their ordinary, usually diminutive names: Rose, Polly, Anna, Molly, Richie, Wayne, Steve. ....And yet, after reading Townie, his son's wrenching, disturbing memoir, it's a little hard to see Dubus as the voice of the working class he was once held up as (I had the same difficulty with Raymond Carver after reading his biography). It's like Dagoberto Gilb saying Carver's characters weren't like the actual construction workers he knew who snorted heroin and got into fights. Once you hear it, you can't quite tune out the false note, the tone of middle-class romanticization of addiction and poverty. What saves Dubus more than Carver are his amazingly vivid characters, and keen, emotionally tinged observation: he can turn a young girl opening a pack of cigarettes into a life-defining moment. (Moral: It is probably never a good idea to learn too much about your favourite writers.)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shaindel

    Only two stories in so far (short stories are my solace when grading papers, so I grade a certain number then read a story, and so on). I might sell my soul to be able to write like this. Wow.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Dubus is often called a "writer's writer," which in general seems a dubious compliment. Are writers truly capable of identifying subtleties in a colleague's work that the average reader can't? When a writer is granted this appellation, I think it's more likely his work is viewed as stylish but slow-paced, elliptical, the equivalent of an art house film or avant-garde play. A select few--the cultured--will enjoy it; the rest of us stumble through wishing we were reading John Grisham. This is part Dubus is often called a "writer's writer," which in general seems a dubious compliment. Are writers truly capable of identifying subtleties in a colleague's work that the average reader can't? When a writer is granted this appellation, I think it's more likely his work is viewed as stylish but slow-paced, elliptical, the equivalent of an art house film or avant-garde play. A select few--the cultured--will enjoy it; the rest of us stumble through wishing we were reading John Grisham. This is particularly true of Dubus's stories. Let me admit I'm biased by having read Dubus's son's memoir "Townie," in which Andre Dubus III paints an ambivalent portrait of his father. "Townie" is in some ways the polar opposite of Dubus's "Selected Stories." Where the stories are meandering and contemplative, "Townie" is tightly focused, compulsively readable. But maybe the larger issue here is the treatment of the subject matter. Both books address divorce, for instance, but come at it from different angles. Dubus's son, in "Townie," suffers the collateral damage of his parents' divorce. His evocation of this time, when he and his siblings were thrust into a hardscrabble life, is visceral and moving. But the senior Dubus, though returning to the themes of divorce and infidelity repeatedly, approaches them as though from a great distance. There is no immediacy, nothing at stake. His characters are almost exclusively working class--soldiers, waitresses, stable owners--yet their thoughts emerge on the page as poetical abstract philosophical inquiries. I'm not saying working class people can't think deeply; it's that these reveries intrude on the narrative momentum of the stories. It's as though Dubus feared his story wasn't "literary" enough, so he thought he better incorporate a flowery interlude to wow the critics. But it's the old adage of "show don't tell." Dubus does too much telling, not enough showing, and it's what separates him from better writers like Raymond Carver and Richard Ford, who explored the same alienated working class people in their stories. Dubus's stories drag on too long; he doesn't seem confident about where to begin or end. And he can't seem to escape his preoccupations: divorce and infidelity, as mentioned, but also Catholicism and Marine culture. The facts of Dubus's life, the failed relationships, he tries to transpose into art but without any of the attendant emotion. One almost gets the sense none of it caused him undue grief. The essays in "Broken Vessels," written after the accident that confined him to a wheelchair, seem more plainspoken, closer to the truth. The stories are okay, but I would recommend reading the essays instead, then read "Townie."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris Gager

    Picked this one off my abundant shelves(I got even more books today from the transfer station!) and read the first story last night. My first awareness of the writer came from reading about the movie version of "In the Bedroom" a few years ago. I MAY have read something(s) of his in The New Yorker. Goodreads is acting up right now and I'm getting PISSED OFF! Screw it. 1 - "Miranda Over the Valley" - a mournful take on the risks of love and sex. Be careful out there! Includes a few words borrowed Picked this one off my abundant shelves(I got even more books today from the transfer station!) and read the first story last night. My first awareness of the writer came from reading about the movie version of "In the Bedroom" a few years ago. I MAY have read something(s) of his in The New Yorker. Goodreads is acting up right now and I'm getting PISSED OFF! Screw it. 1 - "Miranda Over the Valley" - a mournful take on the risks of love and sex. Be careful out there! Includes a few words borrowed from Joyce. I see that some comparison has been made between Mr. Dubus and Raymond Carver, but this story reminds me more of Alice Adams. 2 - "The Winter Father" - More mournful Massachusetts middle-class melodrama. The price of divorce and how we adjust and muddle along. 3 - "Killings" - An excellent, tense, grim and mournful story that was the basis for the acclaimed film "In the Bedroom." After reading the next story I'm thinking that AD had a bit of obsession with lower-middle-class/blue collar relationship/emotional dysfunction and the tendency toward violent conflict "solutions" by men with guns. 4 - "The Pretty Girl" - Another violent tale set in NE Massachusetts. He doesn't name the town, but I'm thinking Haverhill. This was a long story(60 pages) and after a while the long interior monologue paragraphs focusing on the "narration" of the two protagonists began to wear on my patience. Something of a cross between Raymond Carver and William Faulkner(stream of consciousness) I'd say. I just wanted the crazy-violent ex-husband to depart one way or another(the violent way as it turned out) and have the story end. About 20 fewer pages would have sufficed and I found myself skimming the last 20 pages or so. Boring ... I think I understand what the author was after and that to do his concept(casting a light on the inner-lives of two blue-collar nobodies) justice he had to follow his nose to the end. To me, however, these were just two clueless, boring, emotionally and intellectually limited people. Again I say ... boring. Updike did this magnificently in his Rabbit series, but from the outside looking in. AD tried from the inside out and for me it didn't work. Boring and annoying ... - Kittery and the Trading Post get a shout-out. My parents(and my) home town for a while. 5 - "Graduation" - another story about the perils of youthful sex, particularly for young women who get labeled as "available." I don't know how it is these days but it seems from what I've read that the atmosphere in Jr. High and H.S. is more charged and dangerous than ever because of social media. The gal in this story deceives her future husband, but she had a good reason for doing it. Society DOESN'T(still) treat men/boys and women/girls equally when it comes to sex. Boys are supposed to go out and get it, while women are supposed to hold on to it. Crazy ... 6 - The Pitcher - and yet another story about the perils of life-love-sex-marriage. A lonely young gal finds herself to a 1950's, youthful, minor-league baseball version of Bill Belichik(sp?). Like our BB, the kid is obsessed with his own path towards success(winning). So she takes a powder and he soldiers on. Funny how much we "admire" people like BB, who are successful in areas that get a lot of attention because of his own "No days off!" mantra. HIS wife finally took a powder after the kids grew up. I assume she was tired of living with a human video-tape watching machine. I'm GLAD that we NE Pats fans(five Super Bowl trophies) have had two obsessed perfectionists to root for, but by their openly expressed political leanings both have shown themselves to be far less than admirable human beings - to me anyway. 7 - "After the Game" - years later in the baseball life of the guy from the previous story. Not really a story. A quick sketch on trauma(?). Not his ... - I was reminded of Russell Banks a few stories ago. At seems at times to have that kind of earnest awkwardness in his style. Not a smoothie ... 8 - "Cadence" - this one's a very effective invoking of the boot camp experience and how it affects the protagonist and his can't-cut-it friend. I was in Navy basic training back in 1965 but it wasn't like Marine boot camp I'm sure. ICK! The author was in the Marine Corps, so he knows whereof he writes. 9 - "If They Knew Yvonne" - the perils of sex, love, marriage, divorce, sin and repentance all wrapped up in a Catholic upbringing. Good stuff ... 10- "Rose" - a longish story with the beat remaining the same: young love, marriage, sex, the Church, birth control(or lack thereof), kids, no money, the blue collar dead end blues, bad luck in spousal selection, abuse leading to outright nasty violence and death. Made me shed a few tears. 11 - "The Fat Girl" - of particular interest to me because I've been a compulsive eater for pretty much all my life. The cover photo indicates that AD was one of us as well. I'm not so sure his psychological depiction of the woman in question is accurate. It's not ME anyway. But, he might be right that this is ONE person's story of addiction. She's "one of those unfortunates" as Bill W. would put it. Constitutionally incapable of being honest with herself ... in love with food and eating - it's her Higher Power. 12 - "The Captain" - something about Marine Corps/male mythology. Not one of my favorites so far. 13 - "Anna" - the third story(and second straight) that I'm not that crazy about. AD stays on the dysfunctional semi-lower depths of the Merrimack Valley(a bar named Timmie's makes yet another appearance) as he gives an impressionistic view of the lives of two young losers. The title gal is a young lady heading for alcoholism. Well-written but ho-hum ... 14 - "They now live in Texas" - another shortie, and another one about female drinking problems. AA gets a mention. Meh ... 15 - "Voices from the Moon" - a long story in the same general vein as many of the others in this collection: relational/social/emotional dysfunction in NE Massachusetts in the Merrimack Valley. Bars, booze, kinky/compulsive sex, endless cigarettes, drugs, gratuitous male violence, Catholicism, etc. A real-life saga of a blue-collar-middle class family. But ... I didn't care for it, particularly the writing, which tried very hard to GET me to care about all this essentially boring and trivial stuff. Who does this better? How about Richard Ford, Alice McDermott, William Trevor, Alice Munro, Alice Adams, Raymond Carver, John Updike, Tobias Wolff - to name a few. The writing in this story put me into my skim mode over the last 20 pages or so. I just couldn't care about this bunch of dopes and burn-outs. Boring ... tedious ... sonorous ... over-written ... pretentious - a mediocre "sex" novel of the 1950's tarted up with "serious"-sounding prose. So far this is at least the second long story that hasn't worked for me. I noticed that only two of these stories appeared previously in magazines. Is that a giveaway? I've lowered my rating to 3.5* for now. Still time to get back up to a 3.75! I HAVE enjoyed many of these stories but overall it's been a mixed bag. "Townies," "Leslie in California," "The Curse" = more in the same hopeless, blue-collar downer vein. Does anybody NOT smoke cigarettes in these stories? AD is a cap[able enough writer, but to what purpose? I'm now convinced that this collection has been overrated by his fans. "Sorrowful Mysteries" - a bit of a welcome change of pace, but still a downer. Visits the Emmett Till murder. "Delivering" - I liked this one a bit better as it sets itself in a familiar(to me) setting of kid's dealing with divorce(and not wanting too). I could have used a close-in big brother myself. Does a good job of visiting a boy's life: summer, delivering papers, riding a bike, going fishing, baseball and the Red Sox, going to the beach. "Adultery" - The title has a nice double meaning but the story is back in the all-too-familiar drone-on narrative(to0 long - again!) milieu. Boring ... adult ... middle class ... melodrama. Trying to follow Updike's "Loving"? The setting's the same ... Paragraph after paragraph of piffling, boring blah-blah masquerading via the author's portentous style as being of emotional/spiritual significance. The big reveal at the end is a big ... MEH! - "She never lied to Hank and now everything was a lie." - a sentence straight out of Harold Robbins! "A Father's Story" - The late Mr. Dubus finished in much the same vein as previous meandering, sonorous, too-long boring stories. Paragraph after paragraph of the inner musings of an aging, morally challenged, religious bore. Another smoker and drinker(OF COURSE!). -The continuous eschewing of commonly-used contractions is a dead giveaway of someone(the father) who takes himself way too seriously. - More pointless spiritual/Catholic blather. Does this dope(we never really learn why his wife left him and took the kids) think that his pal God is OK with his smoking? How about with how he and his daughter deal with a crisis that screams out for them to behave differently at the end? I wound up hating both of them. - So, finally I lower my rating to 3.25*, which rounds down to 3*. A disappointing finish after a promising beginning. AD had his style and he was a pro at it but he stuck to it way too closely from story to story. Now ... if the style had been consistently better ... the long stories, except for "Rose," seemed to be a bridge to far for him.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Derek

    The stories collected here are weird. Not weird in any predictable, clichéd sense, either. It's just that Dubus seems to be working with different material than so many other short story writers (Alice Munro seems like a notable exception, but their voices aren't exactly redundant of one another, either). Much of the work appearing in Selected Stories sounds more like a novel than a short story; the patience that Dubus exhibits (and ultimately asks of his readers, too) is extraordinary. He's usin The stories collected here are weird. Not weird in any predictable, clichéd sense, either. It's just that Dubus seems to be working with different material than so many other short story writers (Alice Munro seems like a notable exception, but their voices aren't exactly redundant of one another, either). Much of the work appearing in Selected Stories sounds more like a novel than a short story; the patience that Dubus exhibits (and ultimately asks of his readers, too) is extraordinary. He's using oils when others are working in watercolors or sketching with nubby pencils. The stories take their time to get where they're going, and the end result is some pretty amazing and impactful narratives, ones that stick with you long after you've shut the book for the night or moved on to the next. And for all their literary-ness (whatever the hell that might mean), these stories aren't afraid to take risks and tackle big topics, either: murder, adultery, manslaughter, alcoholism, religion, the works. Some of these stories, in less able hands, might come off as exaggerated and sophomoric. But not in Dubus'. Catholocism takes a big place here--imagine, perhaps, if Flannery O'Connor were writing from the perspective of New England instead of the American south--and as such, the stories have a gravity of guilt carried by many of the protagonists. But such guilt doesn't prohibit them from making the types of interesting mistakes that people love to read about, and so their despair seems hard-won and real. If there's any complaint to be made against a pretty unassailable collection, it's that Dubus seems just a little too content to sit inside his own voice for protracted lengths of time; pages can pass before the present action of the story moves, or even begins, for that matter. It's a hard complaint to make, of course, because this is the same quality that makes Dubus' stories so compelling in the first place, but part of me is left wondering what detrimental effect excising a good 40 percent of some of these stories might have. With that said, it's still a wonderful collection well worth the time of any reader who is patient enough to not expect a ton of movement with every paragraph.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mauberley

    This was my introduction to Dubus' work and I was mightily impressed, particularly by the longer stories ('Rose', 'Voices From the Moon'), particularly 'Adultery' which, to me, artfully conveyed the difference between sin and crime. In al of the stories, the love they make and the drugs they take were insightfully described. Some readers seem to pick up on this line from 'Voices From the Moon' and I can see why: '...we don't have to live great lives, we just have to understand and survive the on This was my introduction to Dubus' work and I was mightily impressed, particularly by the longer stories ('Rose', 'Voices From the Moon'), particularly 'Adultery' which, to me, artfully conveyed the difference between sin and crime. In al of the stories, the love they make and the drugs they take were insightfully described. Some readers seem to pick up on this line from 'Voices From the Moon' and I can see why: '...we don't have to live great lives, we just have to understand and survive the ones we've got' and, when you read these tales, you'll understand how apt that is in the world of Dubus' characters.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    The truly remarkable thing about this collection is the number of times I had to stop and reassess characters, examining their actions in relation to their thoughts and emotions. Many have said that Dubus writes all his characters with great sympathy, but I think what he does is even more striking: he writes them the way they wish they could write themselves. That's the way I can feel great pain for a man's childhood loss of his Marine brother, even after he has raped his ex-wife and set fire to The truly remarkable thing about this collection is the number of times I had to stop and reassess characters, examining their actions in relation to their thoughts and emotions. Many have said that Dubus writes all his characters with great sympathy, but I think what he does is even more striking: he writes them the way they wish they could write themselves. That's the way I can feel great pain for a man's childhood loss of his Marine brother, even after he has raped his ex-wife and set fire to her lawn. It's what I've tried to do in my own stories, though I've never attempted characters for which this task would be as ambitious as it is for some of Dubus'. The truth is he really understands people who feel pain. From their daily routines to their moments of sorrow (and sometimes when these are the same), they are always interesting. I also can't help but like, as a Marine Officer, the way the Corps runs subtly through the collection. And if "A Father's Story" doesn't hit you like a freight train whose every car carries a ton of bricks, there is something seriously wrong with you.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    Dubus's acute eye pinpoints human behavior, cleanly and realistically. Credit has been given to Peter Yates, his mentor in Iowa, for development of his spare style, nailing with a few words situations that others have spent pages on. The writer he reminds me most of is Raymond Carver -- each was a chronicler of his age, but their stories are universal, never stale.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Donna Kirk

    he's kind of a creep.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    It's about Catholicism, and the Northeast and once the South, and boys and girls and the things they do to each other. I will be reading more Dubus, for sure.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jason M.

    Wonderul. Absolutely freaking wonderful.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lucian McMahon

    It was raining in Vermont so I stopped at a bookstore outside Middlebury. I had been keeping my eye out for a Dubus copy since reading about him in the Paris Review. I found his Selected Stories and nestled into a plastic armchair in a corner to wait out the rain and the morning. As I read, my soul began to bleed out onto the floor. Then a group of masked men appeared and vacuumed up my soul. They poured the divine liquid into a square freezer box. Once it was frozen solid, they took my soul out It was raining in Vermont so I stopped at a bookstore outside Middlebury. I had been keeping my eye out for a Dubus copy since reading about him in the Paris Review. I found his Selected Stories and nestled into a plastic armchair in a corner to wait out the rain and the morning. As I read, my soul began to bleed out onto the floor. Then a group of masked men appeared and vacuumed up my soul. They poured the divine liquid into a square freezer box. Once it was frozen solid, they took my soul out and placed it on the floor. They then took sledgehammers to it, smashing it into a thousand shards. They waited as the fragments melted. Then they vacuumed the melt up and began to pour it back into the freezer box. That's when I stopped reading and untangled my body from the plastic armchair and spent the $12 for the book and walked out of the bookstore. My soul is still breaking and melting and breaking again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Laysee

    "...We don't have to live great lives, we just have to understand and survive the ones we've got…" It took me weeks to read Andre Dubus’ “Selected Stories” because they were very good and very sad. Many of the stories left me reeling from the visceral fears and pains that could not be sidestepped. I had to take breaks and return when I felt ready for more raging sorrow. Dubus excelled in his vivid and sympathetic rendering of the inner life of his characters. It was as though he had lived each of "...We don't have to live great lives, we just have to understand and survive the ones we've got…" It took me weeks to read Andre Dubus’ “Selected Stories” because they were very good and very sad. Many of the stories left me reeling from the visceral fears and pains that could not be sidestepped. I had to take breaks and return when I felt ready for more raging sorrow. Dubus excelled in his vivid and sympathetic rendering of the inner life of his characters. It was as though he had lived each of their outsized emotions and could tell them like they were. He was very convincing. The stories centered mostly on dysfunctional individuals struggling to survive. Some were stories about young people living dissipated lives lost to drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity (e.g., “Townies”). Heartbreaking tales were told of troubled adolescents fighting a losing battle against the “terrible enemy of (their) body and souls” (“If They Knew Yvonne”), dealing with pregnancy (“Miranda Over The Valley”), or coping with obesity, dieting, self-loathing, and social rejection (“The Fat Girl”). Dubus also had a way of writing about little observations that was unsettling – e.g., dropping live crabs into boiling water and "waiting for them to scream". In several stories, infidelity, adultery, and divorce loomed large. In “Adultery”, a couple who professed to love only each other openly took lovers; the husband justified his adultery on his disbelief in monogamy when it was pure lust. This story left me quite livid. Dubus described with great understanding the "deep and helpless sorrow, and the anger" children experienced in the throes of their parents' divorce (“Voices Over The Moon, “Delivering”. It was unconscionable that children should be made to bear burdens beyond their years. The most powerful stories were on fatherhood (e.g., “The Winter Father”, “Killings”, and “A Father’s Story”). Dubus wrote movingly of the extent to which a father would go to defend or shield his children. If you read nothing else, read “A Father’s Story”. It was outstanding as many reviewers too had noted. There was nothing maudlin about Dubus' prose. The complexities of the life issues were immense as were the strong reactions they generated. They felt excessive and yet they did not seem exaggerated. How did Dubus’ characters muster the strength to survive when their lives fell apart? They picked up the pieces even when, like Humpty Dumpty, things could not be put together again. The boys in “Voices Over The Moon” dealt with their parents’ divorce by going about their routine paper routes, surfing, and eating donuts. This, I thought, was remarkable - living in the needs of the day, "a moment at a time, a day, a night."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Faller

    A truly regional writer, Dubus manages an expansiveness that comes out of an almost intimate understanding of his character's inner lives. He provides us with an example of a writer who makes what might have been unnecessary backstory relevant to the events of his narratives, as the psychological groundwork shaping his characters' attitudes and motivations. While at times Dubus seems to espouse a narrow view of gender relationships and can become at times a little reductive when writing about wo A truly regional writer, Dubus manages an expansiveness that comes out of an almost intimate understanding of his character's inner lives. He provides us with an example of a writer who makes what might have been unnecessary backstory relevant to the events of his narratives, as the psychological groundwork shaping his characters' attitudes and motivations. While at times Dubus seems to espouse a narrow view of gender relationships and can become at times a little reductive when writing about women, I'm not as troubled by his representations of women as I am of other male writers', and I think this is because of Dubus's willingness to explore aspects of his characters that exist beyond the demands of his plots. This collection shows the ways in which Dubus manages both the short and long story forms. Two of the more engaging stories reach beyond sixty and seventy pages, and read less as narratives than as extended diagnoses, as if Dubus were more interested in tracing out the motivations of all of the characters involved with the story. He reluctantly settles down on just one character. This makes for an almost argumentative insistence of the complexity of events. No story, Dubus seems to suggest, is the product on one individual's experiences of events, but rather is the alagamation of various viewpoints, various perspectives, conflicting sets of values and motivations. One review calls Dubus "democratic," and this seems a sharp assessment of his achievement.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Caspar Peek

    Stories are so different from novels, or supposed to be, and it is rare that you find a writer who masters the genre as well as Dubus. One critic once wrote that it was as if Dubus "were able to breathe light into his stories", if I'm paraphrasing it right, and this is so true: it's a bit like looking at a Rembrandt painting and sensing that light illuminating the darker parts, the parts that had remained unseen until the painter made them visible. And so it is with Dubus perhaps. The people in Stories are so different from novels, or supposed to be, and it is rare that you find a writer who masters the genre as well as Dubus. One critic once wrote that it was as if Dubus "were able to breathe light into his stories", if I'm paraphrasing it right, and this is so true: it's a bit like looking at a Rembrandt painting and sensing that light illuminating the darker parts, the parts that had remained unseen until the painter made them visible. And so it is with Dubus perhaps. The people in his stories are hurt, damaged, lonely and resentful. They are also yearning for love or redemption. The genius of Dubus was perhaps that he brought light to them, showing them in their wretched emotional nakedness yet making the reader care for them, and forgive them for their sins. No mean feat. And all that within twenty pages or less.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    I know that he's gotten a lot of acclaim. I just can't find room in my heart for this, the only book of his I've read. Pointless character studies abound, mostly they are slice of life stories. Nicely written at times, but still...gah. There is one story about a janitor that is perhaps one of the most boring things I've ever read. Is he lucid? Mostly. He is the next Chekhov? No. NO.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Di

    Just my kind of book. I usually choose to read women writers; yes, I know, I'm prejudiced. I've found that most men writers are plot driven. But this guy "gets" nuance, quiet desperation, inner thoughts. Think Alice Munro, Carol Shields, Ann Patchett.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    This is simply my most favorite short story collection ("A Father's Story" - read it) by one of my favorite authors.

  21. 5 out of 5

    John

    Some of these are five plus stars: Miranda over the Valley; the Pretty Girl; the Fat Girl; Rose; Adultery; A Father's story.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Stacy

    This is an outstanding collection. Andre Dubus II. Holy freaking WOW. What an incredible writer. The first story I read in this book was "The Winter Father." It turned out to be a very difficult story for me. I worried I couldn't keep reading this book, my stress level hit such a high level. Because I knew, with each page I turned, that the author was writing his own life when he penned this story. I read Andre Dubus II as the character of the divorced father in this particular tale, struggling to This is an outstanding collection. Andre Dubus II. Holy freaking WOW. What an incredible writer. The first story I read in this book was "The Winter Father." It turned out to be a very difficult story for me. I worried I couldn't keep reading this book, my stress level hit such a high level. Because I knew, with each page I turned, that the author was writing his own life when he penned this story. I read Andre Dubus II as the character of the divorced father in this particular tale, struggling to spend time with his young children. And why would that be so hard? Because I'm a big fan of the author's son: Andre Dubus III. Andre Dubus III is one of the most compassionate, dynamic, and inspiring people I've ever met. He's wicked smart, funny as hell, and whenever I've had the pleasure of hearing him speak, I never want it to end. In 2011, Andre Dubus III published a beautiful memoir, "Townie," and I read the book as soon as the hardback went up for sale. Which is all to say that I met Andre Dubus II (the father) after first meeting his son -- in person, and through his son's memoir -- and I know very well that the children of Andre Dubus II grew up in poverty. A hideous, soul-crushing, brutal poverty. When I read "Townie," my heart was ripped out, mauled, and stuffed back in my chest, the way a really good memoir can shred heart tissue. Then along came this collection, "Selected Stories," by Andre Dubus II. And I just happened to read "The Winter Father" first. I gnashed my teeth, I felt hideously uncomfortable, but the prose held me. The beauty of these sentences convinced me I had to read more. In spite of myself, I was hooked. I cannot overstate how good the writing in this collection had to be for me to overlook what I know of this author -- what I know his children went through because of the choices he made in his life. But the writing. Is. Stellar. Oh my God, this prose is so good. These stories are dark, insightful, full of careful detail, plot, and complexity. In the prose of Andre Dubus, truth pulls the reader along like a riptide. The sentences are slow and expansive, but also darting and swift -- these stories have a riveting speed to them, and I kept compulsively rereading each page, delighted and awed. Absorbing an Andre Dubus II short story is like seeing a master magician at work, watching all the pretty scarves fluttering through the air, while a woman is simultaneously sawed in half and fifty white rabbits are popped out of top hats. These stories are a spectacular show. My absolute favorites, listed in the order they appear in the book: "The Pretty Girl," "Townies," and "Adultery." These stories made me want to jam my fists in the air and howl. And howl, and howl. I loved these stories so hard. My second-favorites of this collection, named in the order the stories appear in this book: "The Winter Father," "Cadence," "Rose," and "Voices from the Moon." Human beings show up on every page of this book. These people are flawed, broken, ugly. Selfish. Foolish. Sometimes they are heroic. Often, they are not. Sexism, misogyny, gender essentialism -- all take a front row in these tales. So does classism. And racism. If it's a hideous part of society -- trust me, Andre Dubus II pins it down on the page. This is a writer with clear eyes and an unwavering pen. I often felt slashed, reading these words. Then I just wanted him to slash me again. If you love literature, if you love honesty, if you love authors who write without flinching -- then do yourself a favor, and read this book. "Selected Stories" is a brilliant collection.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bruddy

    After having read this collection of stories, I consider Andre Dubus a master. The stories often take unexpected turns, revealing some essential truth or reality that arises organically from what preceded it. Similar, I believe, to the epiphanies experienced by characters in Joyce's Dubliners. Dubus often writes about struggling people in New England mill towns near the Merrimac River: wounded families, drunks, thieves, living out their lives in a recognizable world of spiritual isolation. Dubus After having read this collection of stories, I consider Andre Dubus a master. The stories often take unexpected turns, revealing some essential truth or reality that arises organically from what preceded it. Similar, I believe, to the epiphanies experienced by characters in Joyce's Dubliners. Dubus often writes about struggling people in New England mill towns near the Merrimac River: wounded families, drunks, thieves, living out their lives in a recognizable world of spiritual isolation. Dubus is a humane writer, whose compassion for his characters probably derives from having been a flawed man himself, an adulterer, an absentee father, but—inferring from the stories—a decent man nonetheless. Were he alive today, I feel he would have written insightfully and powerfully on the opioid crisis devastating our country. His stories are earthy, physical, and yet contain a meaningful spiritual aspect informed by compassion and forgiveness.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Coneliuhss

    I thought this was a pleasant read diving into the dark and scary parts of life. The content matter was fruitful, the characters were dynamic, and the endings were nonsensical as hell. Dubus was a deep and beautiful spirit appealing to both the stubborn and the free hearted by making stories relating to everyday, real life problems and real life blessings. Overall, I would say this is a must read for the upcoming generations to link them with problems that were faced nationwide by everyday peopl I thought this was a pleasant read diving into the dark and scary parts of life. The content matter was fruitful, the characters were dynamic, and the endings were nonsensical as hell. Dubus was a deep and beautiful spirit appealing to both the stubborn and the free hearted by making stories relating to everyday, real life problems and real life blessings. Overall, I would say this is a must read for the upcoming generations to link them with problems that were faced nationwide by everyday people in the U.S.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    Really great stuff, I read his kid's book a few back and enjoyed it as well. Dubus' short stories (i guess that's all he wrote?) I had never read him before but I know he was a contemporary of Yates so I figured he'd have some nice early baby-boom misery in his stories. There wasn't a distinctive style that stuck out (like a Saunders or a Carver), the stories we just extremely well written. One that really stuck out was "adultery part 3." - maybe the only story not set in Louisiana or NE Mass. I Really great stuff, I read his kid's book a few back and enjoyed it as well. Dubus' short stories (i guess that's all he wrote?) I had never read him before but I know he was a contemporary of Yates so I figured he'd have some nice early baby-boom misery in his stories. There wasn't a distinctive style that stuck out (like a Saunders or a Carver), the stories we just extremely well written. One that really stuck out was "adultery part 3." - maybe the only story not set in Louisiana or NE Mass. I'm def. going to read more of this guy.

  26. 5 out of 5

    William Thornton

    A treasure of stories. This collection was my introduction to Dubus, and I can't wait to read more. Insightful, thought provoking, wonderful character development without prejudice or judgement. Not a bad story in the entire collection. If you have not discovered Dubus, and you like beautiful writing, this is a good place to start.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Circle of Hope Pastors

    The work of short story writer Andre Dubus Sr. was very influential in helping sustain and deepen my faith. Standouts among his stories are 'A Father's Story' and the novella 'Voices from the Moon.' -- Danielle Collins

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael Buchanan

    Some really nice writing here. Interesting characters and meaty stories. Quite dense though, not a book to blaze through. Dip in and dip out.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    Beautifully written haunting collection of stories.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Williams

    Imagine a cuddlier Raymond Carver and you have something of Dubus’ appeal. ‘A Father’s Story’ and ‘Killings’ are essential reading.

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