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Townie : a memoir by Andre Dubus

Townie : a memoir (edition 2011)

by Andre Dubus

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Title:Townie : a memoir
Authors:Andre Dubus
Info:New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2011.
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Townie by Andre Dubus III



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Other reviewers have already mentioned this, but perhaps the most impressive thing about "Townie" is the fact that it exists at all. Most people who had Andre Dubus III's uprbinging don't write books, they die young, end up in prison, or, if they survive, don't really grow up to be the writing type. Dubus's memoir records a whole set of experiences and enthusiasms that, for this reason, hardly ever make it into print. There's a lot in here about fighting, drug use, teenage delinquency, manual labor and post-sixties societal decay. It's a relentlessly physical book: the author's honest, and even eloquent, about the anger and resentment he felt growing up and the way that these feelings expressed themselves through fistfights and relentless physical training. I can't think of another book that describes body-on-body violence with the psychological honesty that "Townie" does: it might leave you feeling bruised. Despite all this, Dubus finds a way to tell his story gracefully. His writing is direct and unadorned, but not without subtlety. "Townie" is also a sort of tribute to the author's famous writer father, and he writes candidly about both his enormous talent and his failures as a father and a human being. It's nice to see father and son reach a sort of understanding by the time that the book ends, but Dubus III's also honest about the fact that the resolution's not really complete: he obviously wishes that his father knew more about the rough, chaotic childhood that he abandoned him to. Dubus pére comes off, at times, as shockingly self-centered and inexcusably ignorant about the way that his kids grew up, while Dubus's mother merely seems absent, overwhelmed and barely able to cope with the challenges that her choices had forced upon her. "Townie" could probably be criticized for being a bit overlong, but I'm glad that Dubus was able to write it, and to bear up under the challenges life threw his way. He feels no regrets about cutting short his boxing career and rejecting violence as the preferred solution to all of his problems, but it's also clear that he never stopped being a fighter. ( )
1 vote TheAmpersand | Sep 13, 2015 |
This man leads my Tribe of Writers who Run and sometimes Fight. Yes, the fighting can be violent, but it's the same flame that guides a writer --or a runner-- to complete the long and challenging task.

This man is a master. Don't let the violence mislead you.

4 3/4 stars. Lost a partial star because neither books nor people are perfect.

This is the best book I've read in 2015... ( )
  terrybanker | Aug 24, 2015 |
I recently saw a Nora Ephron quote (somewhere), something to the effect that real life is always more unbelievable than fiction--this book truly attests to that sentiment. Beautifully written, haunting, searing. I think that if Andre Dubus III hadn't become a writer, by now he would either have died a violent death or be in prison.
I was tempted to give this a "5 star" rating, but I think it could have used a bit more pruning, at least in the opening chapters. ( )
1 vote LizHD | Mar 25, 2015 |
I liked the cover, so I bought the book. I am that shallow. This memoir is not shallow in the slightest. I can't believe the life of this man has been laid so bare, for anyone to just pick up and read about. It is so personal, and so reflective and so emotional. Yet the life it describes is so rough and violent and difficult.

This book takes in all the grey-areas, nuances and half-truths that face us in modern society (and inside our own heads) and spits them out as a cohesive and rounded memoir. The conflict of loving parents who do a best that is not enough, of seeing your loved ones hurt and in pain and delivering a retribution that is made of the same, of needing to learn and to write but wondering what good it can really do the world. The big themes are treated like the tangled mess that they are, with the knowledge that there is no single solution.
I read the last third until past midnight, knowing full well I would be awake before 6am by way of a three year-old barrelling into my room at full speed. I read because I could not stop. ( )
1 vote Ireadthereforeiam | Nov 2, 2014 |

The audio book read by the author himself is a great way to experience this gritty memoir. ( )
  lunule | Aug 22, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393064662, Hardcover)

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 Nissley

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:10 -0400)

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After their parents divorce in the 1970's, 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.… (more)

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2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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