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Townie : a memoir by Andre Dubus

Townie : a memoir (edition 2011)

by Andre Dubus

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4671822,172 (3.93)33
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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From the beginning I thought I would hate this book. I picked it up because it was on sale and because I recalled liking the House of Sand and Fog by the same author. I didn't realize in my haste that this was the authors memoir. How boring! Add in the fact that as an audio book the narrator was pretty monotone. Doubly boring. But something happened as I continued listening because it was a long drive and I had nothing else. I became engrossed in the story of his unusual upbringing in a variety of South Boston neighborhoods which almost seem more non-fiction and fiction and that Southy accent of the reader became less monotone and more meditative I didn't not realize until the very end of the book that the reader was Andre Dubus himself. I normally have a rule about no books read by the author, it never turns out well, but I think an exception needs to be made when it's the author's memoir. This is simply an amazing story of what can rise from the ashes of poverty and neglect and the love of a family as nontraditional a form that it came. It worked for them. I don't know if I would recommend this book to anyone. I loved it and it came at the right time for me in my life, listening to this boy becoming a man and the struggle he had with his father and figuring out their relationship together. It can be pretty violent at times which also may not appeal to some. But for a book I swore I was going to hate in the first hour, I couldn't stop listening too by the end and now I have to read everything Andre Dubus III has ever written. ( )
  she_climber | Jan 26, 2014 |
This is the memoir of Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog. I have read none of his work, and I didn't know a single thing about him aside from the fact that he wrote that book. I approached the memoir with no expectations. Andre's father (obviously also named Andre Dubus) was a writer as well, and a college professor. His parents divorced when he was a kid, and his mother was left with four kids in a tough neighborhood in Haverhill, Massachusetts. His father was a loving but remote and somewhat oblivious figure in Andre's life. After years of feeling like he was weak and a coward as his family and he himself were victimized in various ways, Andre found his way to lifting weights and fighting. The solution created a problem of its own, however, which was that Andre began seeking out ways to exercise his new-found power, even when there was really no need for it.

The story is raw, and made more so in audio form, since it's read by the author. His voice is flat and matter-of-fact, but also expressive. I'm sure that the print version is powerful as well; Dubus' description of his father offering to play catch with him, only to realize that at age 14, young Andre doesn't know the first thing about baseball, or playing games at all, is poignant on both sides. All the same, I'd highly recommend the audio version if you're interested in the story. ( )
  ursula | Jan 20, 2014 |
Andre Dubus is a wonderful writer. I have very much enjoyed his last two books. I was worried I wouldn't like this one as much since it is non-fiction and a memoir but I shouldn't have worried. The end seemed to both simultaneously go on too long and feel too hurried but Dubus is such a good writer that I was willing to forgive that. ( )
  castironskillet | Aug 13, 2013 |
This is a rough book. It is about violence in all its forms, except war and genocide. Violence on a personal level. If swear words and rape and drugs are going to put you off, well then maybe this isn't a book for you. But read on. It is also about a dysfunctional family. I don't like dysfunctional family stories, or that is what I thought! But hey there is an exception to every rule. Maybe I so very much liked it because it is no story; it is autobiographical! I also know that I liked it because of the writing. Andre Dubus III, can write. A good author can write about any topic and this is a good author.

Excellent writing. Descriptive so you see and feel the atmosphere and tension of the scene. He describes the accouterments of a bar, a bloody body after a fight, and even some humor is thrown in. It is said, "In one of those games with a ball in it....." As a child, Andre NEVER went to a ball game, be it baseball or football or tennis. Absolutely no ball games! How could he? His single mother worked; his father saw him so infrequently that he simply was never there. Money? Poor; he was lucky if he had a pair of shoes. Dialogs are pitch-perfect. The writing is about rough situations but each word is absolutely perfect.

I feel I better understand why someone would turn to violence. The author turned to violence to protect himself and his family, and then that violence took over, and where would it ever end? That is the question he comes to. That is the question that the reader looks at. That is the central question of the book, but you do not accuse and you understand and you do not merely place blame. The book is all about family relationships. Jeez, what we do to each other! The reason why this book is so good is that even if you are not a violent person yourself, you understand why one could become violent and you stop accusing and blaming and looking down on those who have taken that misstep. And where does it end? In more violence? In death? But you know he is now a writer so read on.

The audiobook is narrated by the author himself. It couldn't have been better. He is telling you how he felt. You feel his sorrow and anger, confusion and questions. He is telling his story, and no one else should tell his story but him.

I shouldn't have liked this book, but I certainly did. Good book. Very, very good book. Definitely deserves four stars. ( )
1 vote chrissie3 | Jul 25, 2013 |
I liked this book well enough but I tired of the descriptions of the violence. I had the same sensation of the different time and place as Angela's Ashes but could not bring myself to finish, perhaps another day. ( )
  lindap69 | Apr 5, 2013 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:53 -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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